Any time spent on a device with a screen, such as smart phones, computers, televisions, and video games contribute to daily screen time (NSW Government, n.d.). Australia’s national guidelines for screen time state that, not including schoolwork, children and young people aged between 5-17 years old should aim to engage in sedentary recreational screen time for less than two hours a day (Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, 2021). It is also recommended that all adults over 18 years of age break up long periods of sitting, such as going for walks during lunch breaks (Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, 2021).
Spending greater hours on screens can be associated with adverse effects (Shalani et al., 2021), such as lower psychological well-being (Twenge & Campbell, 2018). There is also some evidence suggesting that higher levels of screen time is related to higher rates of obesity, depressive symptoms, energy intake, and poorer diet quality (Stiglic & Viner, 2019).
Although most research has focused on the negative effects of excess screen time for children and adolescents, the NSW Government (n.d.) also recommends remembering the benefits of using digital devices. We can consider how digital technologies have increased connectivity and may be a valuable source of social support or for building interpersonal skills (Odgers & Jensen, 2020).
Parents can play an important role in modelling a positive and healthy approach to using screens and assisting children to navigate the content they watch. For example, focusing on teaching self-awareness and self-management strategies, such as how devices often include inbuilt features to monitor and control use (NSW Government, n.d.). You may like to discuss with your son how Apple and Android smartphones have ‘Screen Time’ and ‘Digital Wellbeing’ features to help with managing screen time.
The following resources are available to provide parents and caregivers with a range of guidelines and strategies to help manage screen time at home.
- School TV’s special report focuses specifically on managing screen time, and includes a suite of videos and articles on topics such as:
- What are the signs to indicate screen use is having a negative impact?
- How can I establish rules around screen use?
- How can parents handle “digital conflict”?
- What is the best type of parental control for screen use?
- How do I stop my kids using their smart phone at night?
- How to talk to your teen about their online life
- Dr Philip Tam and Knox Head of School Psychology Mr David Schofield discuss common questions around internet and device issues: https://vimeo.com/showcase/6953270/video/432520008
- Psychologist Brad Marshall, Director of the Internet Addiction Clinic at Northshore Kidspace, answers common screen-use related questions on his blog, available at: https://unpluggedpsychologist.com/blog/
- Knox Grammar School’s Research Institute for Children and Adolescents has produced an article on social media use https://www.rica.nsw.edu.au/resources/do-you-control-your-social-media/
- The e-safety Commissioner provides excellent parent advice to promote child safety online- https://www.esafety.gov.au/parents
- The NSW Department of Education has some great strategies for moderating screen time and a healthy approach to digital devices checklist: https://www.digitalcitizenship.nsw.edu.au/articles/managing-screen-time
Odgers, C. L., & Jensen, M. R. (2020). Annual research review: Adolescent mental health in the digital age: Facts, fears, and future directions. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 61(3), 336-348.
Shalani, B., Azadfallah, P., & Farahani, H. (2021). Correlates of screen time in children and adolescents: a systematic review study. Journal of Modern Rehabilitation, 15(4), 187-208.
Stiglic, N., & Viner, R. M. (2019). Effects of screentime on the health and well-being of children and adolescents: a systematic review of reviews. BMJ open, 9(1), e023191.
Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2018). Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents: Evidence from a population-based study. Preventive medicine reports, 12, 271-283.