Useful tools, Wellbeing
How to Limit Screen Time for Kids
23 November, 2022
Screens and how much time our children spend in front of them are cause for concern among parents – and it’s probably for good reason. In a world where digital technology is ubiquitous, how can parents make sure their children are striking the right balance?
Screens are almost impossible to avoid. A large number of children have their own tablets or access to their parents’ devices, and technology is used for both fun and education from a young age. Even family activities like watching TV together every night revolves around screen time.
But as difficult as it may seem, reducing your kids’ screen time will greatly benefit their health in the long run. Read on to find out how to limit screen time (and why you should).
What are the effects of excessive screen time?
No matter how old your child is, screen time can have negative impacts on their health. There is strong evidence to suggest that screen time negatively impacts your child’s…
- Motor and cognitive development
- Social and psychological wellbeing
- Emotional problems (especially in girls)
- Family functioning
- Behavioural problems (e.g., anxiety, hyperactivity, attention, self-esteem)
Recommended screen time limits for kids
According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, the recommended guidelines for screen time for children of different ages is as follows:
- Younger than two: No screen time
- Aged two to five: No more than one hour per day
- Aged five to 17: No more than two hours of sedentary recreational screen time per day (not including school work)
It is perhaps unsurprising that more Australian children spend more time on screens than recommended. In fact, research indicates that only 17 to 23 percent of preschoolers and 15 percent of five to 12-year-olds meet screentime guidelines.
Ways to limit screen time
Wondering how to reduce screen time for your children, or even how to get rid of screen time completely? Luckily, there are plenty of ways to start – here are just a few of them…
- Limit your own screen time – there is a strong relationship between parents’ and children’s screen habits
- Set supportive rules (rather than controlling ones) around screen use, e.g. creating tech-free zones to focus on real-life connection, like the dining area, or assigning ‘screen time days’
- Encourage unstructured and unplugged playtime – trying new toys and activities is a great way to do this
- Seek out apps to limit screen time
- Set a screen time curfew to ensure devices are not interrupting your child’s sleep
Of course, there is such thing as positive screen time. This is screen time that encourages creativity, helps them learn and even socialise. To improve the quality of your child’s screen time, you can try to…
- Seek out interactive options for screen time, rather than allowing your child to passively watch
- Ask your child regularly which programs or games they are playing and make sure you’re aware of the content they are consuming
- Use parental controls to block or filter content, and make sure they’re close by during screen time to supervise their activities.
Looking for more inspiration when it comes to screen-free fun? Check out these two articles…