simple website maker

Parent's Guide to

Screen Time

See below for our experts guide to healthy screen time management.

Mobirise

Screen time is a major concern for most parents. It can be a minefield balancing the needs of children's connected lives but avoiding the dreaded tech tantrums that come with device removal. If you've ever encountered this situation, you are not alone! Research shows that 70% of Australian parents have dealt with tantrums and fights after a device has been removed, and 62% report ongoing conflict in the household because of this.

So how much is too much? The bad news: there is no definitive answer. The good news: there is no definitive answer! The leading authority on screen time is the American Academy of Paediatrics, however, the World Health Organisation has also now weighed in on the debate. Both now define screen time as "time spent viewing 'entertainment' on an electronic device". The important thing to note in this definition is that this time EXCLUDES time spent on screen-based educational activities such as homework or apps that promote learning.

Not all screen time is created equal. It is now more important to critically think about the passive vs. interactive nature of what our children are doing online, rather than just counting the minutes or hours. A passive activity is one where information flow is directed one way, by contrast, an interactive activity is where information is more like a conversation, with 2 or more parties contributing.

Mobirise

What age is most vulnerable?

Depending on how we quantify the issue, there are several age groups that are vulnerable to different aspects of screen-related issues. Research has shown that the majority of parents provide toddlers and preschoolers with unsupervised access to screen time. Primary-aged children are commonly given their first personal device, therefore increasing difficulties with screen time management without parents' help. Teenagers display the highest level of screen usage, with one of the greatest concerns being the impact of late-night device usage on sleep quality. 

How does it happen?

Arguably, our latest generation of kids has been accessing devices at earlier and earlier ages. A large-scale study found that 20% of 5-6 year olds have a TV in their room. Even more concerning was the finding from The Royal Children's Hospital that 50% of toddlers and preschoolers use devices on their own without supervision. In the same study, half of parents of teenagers and a third of parents of primary-aged children stated that they did not enforce screen time limits.

While we know that screen time is not unequivocally bad, one thing we can discern is that a lack of screen time limits and boundaries around screen time can lead to excessive screen use by children and teenagers. Particularly given that the part of a child's brain that is in charge of self-regulating behaviour isn't fully developed until 25, unfettered and unchecked access to devices increases the likelihood of not only screen time issues, but exposure to inappropriate screen content. 

Mobirise

Australian Statistics

Research on screen habits of Australian kids displays some startling digital habits. When exploring what devices were used for, teenagers reported that of their total screen time usage, completing educational tasks amounted to only 39% of total screen time. 80% of parents report feeling concerned over the amount of screen time their kids are getting, yet half of parents don't enforce limits on screen time. 

On a positive note, one in five parents reported using parental control tools to manage screen time, and 62% of parents take steps to filter out inappropriate or dangerous content.

of 12-13 year olds' waking time is spent in front of a screen

%

Of kids regularly access a device at bedtime

%

Of primary-aged children have their own device

%

Straight From The Experts

Here are our three top insights direct from ySafe's leading cyber safety experts.

1

Quality Over Quantity

Emerging research has indicated that the quality of screen-based activities should guide the quantity of screen time.

As a parent, it's important to stay aware of the type of activities your kids are participating in online, so you can make informed choices about screen-time limits. The simple rule here is that anything that has more quality to it (either it's educational or is a socially shared activity such as watching a family movie) can render more quantity (time), whereas a screen-based activity that isn't quality, means a little less quantity.

Think of it this way - The Bachelor is an entertaining show, but doesn't provide much educational value. It doesn't do any harm to watch a small amount, but binge watching it for 5 hours might not be doing our brain (or body) any favours! 

2

Get Involved In Screen Time Activities

Using technology with your children is also a great way to understand what they are doing, and who says you can't enjoy it too! Co-viewing can really ramp up the benefits (and reduce the negative effects) of any type of screen time. Regardless of quality, it's important to remember that issues occur when media use displaces, rather than enhances real life.  

3

Find Balance

Physical activity, adequate sleep, social interaction, hands-on outdoor experiences and face-to-face interaction need to be the primary activities undertaken by your children. Balanced with moderate screen time, these activities enhance life, rather than detract from it.

Mobirise

If you want to setup your child's device to ensure they implement healthy and balanced online habits, here are the steps that we would recommend you take:

1

No Devices in the Bedroom for Younger Children.

Parents need to supervise what their children are accessing. Keeping online time in public spaces at home helps parents identify issues such as strangers engaging with the child, or if banter between friends is being taken too far. We recommend refraining from children using headsets, (even though this may be a little annoying!).

2

No Devices in the Bedroom at Bedtime for Teenagers

Research indicates that access to social media and entertainment apps increase for teenagers at around 9pm, and show high levels of teen engagement until around 1am. In order to promote healthy sleep habits, we recommend that devices stop being used at least an hour before bed, and devices should not be allowed in bedrooms. If teens are arguing they need their phones for their alarm or for Spotify, consider using a parental control tool to block access to social media and games. If they won't let you install a parental control tool, then be firm on no devices in bedrooms at night (alarm clocks still work really well, even in 2020). 

3

Set an Off time at Night- At Least One Hour Before Bed

When engaged in screen-based tasks, kids' brains are still actively consuming and processing information. This is particularly true when it comes to games, as games result in an increased level of cognitive arousal. While kids can fall asleep straight after screen time, research has shown that not providing a buffer time prior to sleep where screens are away, negatively impacts sleep quality. Being clear on an “off-time” is great for sleep, but also helpful for your kids to communicate with their friends that they won't
be available until the following day. 

4

Set a Technology Free Time/Zone That Applies to the Whole Family

We are all surrounded by technology so often, that we rarely manage off-times. It's essential for parents to model healthy screen habits for our children. Therefore, we recommend having a technology free area in your home, or a technology free time everyday (6pm-7pm, around time for example).It is vital however that this applies to everyone in the house, including parents! This promotes a space for communication and bonding. If you find it difficult to stay away from your phone, it's a perfect time to share this discomfort with your kids, and open up a conversation about how everyone feels being apart from their device. This is great for sharing and connection.

© Copyright 2020 ySafe - All Rights Reserved