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.
Under 5yrs there is strong evidence that screen time has a negative effect on
- Motor development
- Cognitive development
- Social and psychosocial development.
Source: https://aifs.gov.au/resources/short-articles/too-much-time-screens 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- CHOOSE ONE time or one part of the family routine to eliminate screen time .
- 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.
- 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. ,