Toddler staring at a screen in front of toys in bedroom

Five tips to reduce screen time for kids aged 2-5

Firstly let’s have a look at the Recommendations vs Reality…..


Under 2 years – NO SCREEN Time

2 to 5 years – 1 hour per day

Source: The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care



Children 4-5yrs - average more than two hours screen time/week day

Source: Growing up in Australia: A Longitudinal study of Australian Children - 2015 Report

So in reality, young children are spending at least 100% more time on screens than is recommended by the Government.

Why change??

Under 5yrs there is strong evidence that screen time has a negative effect on

  • Weight
  • Motor development
  • Cognitive development
  • Social and psychosocial development.

Source: August 2021

Where do I start??? Firstly DO NOT feel guilty if your child is spending more time than recommended on screens – guilt will get you nowhere and not encourage change.

Our top 5 tips for reducing screen time: 

  1. HOW much time is your child spending on screens? Be honest with yourselves, chat to a partner or friend or other carer in the house.
  2. Make a PLAN of action Have a look at WHEN your child is on the screen and when the most difficult times are regarding the family routine. Have a think about the times of the day you could reduce or eliminate your child watching a screen.
  3. CHOOSE ONE  time or one part of the family routine to eliminate screen time .
  4. Start SMALL, SET the RULES and stick to them  Set the rule e.g. no screens before breakfast. Beware of pushback/aggression/poor behaviour, this is known as an “extinction burst” where the child will become more outspoken/attention seeking/using poor behaviour trying to get what they want (the screen).    Practice what you preach – make sure your screens are away and you are present and focussed on the family routine to reach the common goal.
  5. Provide ALTERNATIVES and EVALUATE progress   Depending on the time of day, provide an alternative to screens e.g. free play, organised sport/activity, drawing, painting, puzzles, looking at picture books, reading, listening to, dancing to music or other purposeful activity. After a month, chat to your partner or friend or other carer in the house to rate how effective the change has been and give yourself and your child some positive feedback.  Finally - When your child is enjoying screen time, set rules around the content being watched and the time allowed. Provide a box or bag to place screens and remotes into for safe keeping when not in use. When your child is watching a program - watch it with them and discuss the content together.                     ,





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