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Expert Advice

Screen-time guidelines need updating, says study

A new study has recommended increasing the recommendated amount of daily screen-time for kids

A new study has recommended that the current Australian Health Department guidelines of less than two hours a day of screen time for children be changed to take into account the changing face of technology.
The study, titled “Virtually Impossible: limiting Australian children and adolescents daily screen-based media use” found that 60 per cent of Aussie kids were already exceeding the recommendations, after taking into account TV, social media, gaming and the internet.
“The introduction of mobile devices suggests the less-than-two-hours-per-day recommendation may no longer be tenable given the surge in social media engagement and school-derived screen use,” researcher Professor Stephen Houghton from the University of Western Australia said.
The study concluded that the current guidelines “may no longer be tenable” as “both parents and schools are enthusiastically embracing the digital age”.
But while researchers found that screens – such as tablets, laptops and smart phones were often used for school work (63 per cent), watching TV was still be far the most popular screen-based activity.
The study also highlighted the difference between genders, with boys more likely to exceed the recommended screen time playing games, with game playing peaking amongst eight year olds, while girls were bigger users of social media.
“By 15 years of age, girls were over 15 times more likely to exceed the less-than-two hours recommendation compared to their eight-year-old peers, and almost seven times more so than boys,” Professor Houghton said.

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