13 December 2018

Australian children's screen time and participation in extracurricular activities

This research used data from The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children to examine children’s screen-based activities during childhood. A majority of Australian children were spending more than the recommended two-hour daily limit for screen time (watching television, on computers and playing electronic games). At 4–5 years old, children averaged more than two hours screen time per week-day. By 12–13 years old, this increased to more than three hours average per week-day and almost four hours per weekend day. So up to 30% of a child’s waking time was spent in front of a screen. The study also found that children who engaged in physical activities that they enjoyed, tended to spend less time in front of screens. TV was children’s main form of screen time, accounting for about 60% of total screen time. Children who watched TV for more than two hours a day were more likely to have parents with low levels of education, a TV in their bedroom; and no household rules limiting TV viewing. As children got older, their computer and electronic game time increased. The percentage of children spending at least one hour per weekday on a computer or gaming increased from 25% at 6 years of age to 53% by 11 years.