Guidelines for kids screen time ‘out of date’

Guidelines for kids screen time 'out of date'

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According to new research, the current guidelines for kids daily screen time are in need of a review.

How long do you think your kids should be spending in front of a screen every day?

If you’re following the current guidelines the answer is no more 2 hours. A recent study, however has found that this recommendation is virtually impossible to stick to.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia have found that on average 63% of young people, were spending more than the recommended time in front of a screen.

With previous studies focusing on TV or computer use or video games, or a combination of the 3; this study widened what is defined as a screen to include “Anything that shows a picture that you watch or interact with.” Think iPads, smartphones and iPod Touch- along with TVs etc.

Do boys or girls spend more time ‘on screen’?

As part of their research the authors also looked at how gender influenced screen time.

While they thought that boys were more likely to exceed 2 hours of screen, what they found was that, with exception of gaming, it was actually girls that were going over the limit.

Age was also a factor- 45% of 8 year olds studies exceeded 2 hours of screen time. This figure increased to 80% of the 16 year olds participating in the study.

Why is screen time on the rise?

“The use of mobile devices now makes screen use the centrepiece of young people’s social lives. Children and young adolescents live in media saturated worlds where the introduction of newer mobile screen media has afforded them with unprecedented access to the wider world,” the study authors noted.

They go on to say, “Given young people’s lifestyles are set in a world comprising a range of electronic devices that are seamlessly into their daily routines, should this come as any surprise?”

The study concluded that further research be done to develop evidenced-based guidelines for screen time for children and adolescents, keeping in mind the need for educational and non-educational use of screen based media and the impact they can have on wellbeing.  

What do you think is a realistic amount of screen time for kids? Tell us in the comments section below.

Source:doi:10.1186/1471-2458-15-5 Houghton et al.: Virtually impossible: limiting Australian children and adolescents daily screen based media use. BMC Public Health 2015 15:5.