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Give the screen a rest. Active play is best

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Give the screen a rest. Active play is best! encourages children, parents and carers to consider the amount of screen time they watch, and challenges them to identify how they can reduce their screen time and increase their activity levels.

How much screen time is okay?

Recreational screen time includes time spent texting, watching TV or DVDs, playing video games on the TV, computer or handheld console and time spent browsing or socialising on the computer. It does not include doing homework or study commitments.

There are lots of reasons why kids should have less screen time

Most of them are to do with helping children develop at every age – such as helping little kids build their physical skills like running, which also make their bones stronger; and helping all kids, even teenagers, build confidence and communication skills to interact better with their families, friends and communities.

Despite popular beliefs screen time does not help those under 2 years old with their language or intelligence. But it can actually negatively affect the development of their eyes or time they can stay focused.

Recommended Australian guidelines

The recommended Australian guidelines for total recreational screen time are:

  • Babies and kids under 2 years: no screen time
  • Kids 2 to 5 years: up to 1 hour each day
  • Kids 6 to 18 years: up to 2 hours each day

A round photo of a teenage boy and girl playing with a basketball

Parents do an amazing job

There’s a lot of work involved in raising kids. And whether you have babies or teenagers, you’ll know that doing the best for your kids takes time and energy. So it can be a relief when they settle down in front of the TV or computer, or to play electronic games. But getting them actively playing is better in so many ways.

Active kids are healthier, and they usually find it easier to make friends and to concentrate and do well at school. Plus, when they’re running around, they’re tiring themselves out – so getting them into bed should be easier too!

Active kids are happy, healthy kids

When they’re playing, they’re using their imagination, communicating, exploring ideas, solving problems, making friendships, gaining confidence, and moving their bodies. Which means they’re also on the path to becoming healthy adults.

Think about switching off the screen and getting the kids outdoors and moving around a bit more. Or, maybe they could do something active indoors, like playing hide and seek around the house, or making an obstacle course with pillows in the hallway, or practising their dance moves.

A round photo of a family riding bikes through the park past gumtrees and sunlit lawn

Top tips to give the screen a rest

Try some of these great tips from other parents:

  • Let your kids know how much screen time they’re allowed each day and get them to keep their own record
  • Involve your kids in meal preparation and have TV-free mealtimes
  • Plan what shows to watch each week and turn the TV off when they’re finished
  • Be aware of how much TV you watch and maybe cut back yourself
  • Have one day a week without TV, computers or electronic games
  • Encourage your kids to play outside whenever possible
  • Keep bedrooms TV free
  • Go on a family walk after dinner – even if it’s just a couple of laps around the block.

Fun ideas to get kids moving

It’s not just your kids who can get active. Why not join in too! It’s a great way to spend family time together. The list below provides some ideas to get you started. 

Babies

  • playgroups
  • 'tummy time'
  • reaching for toys
  • toys that rattle, crunch and bang
  • peek-a-boo
  • crawling through tunnels
  • playing outside on the grass or sand.

Toddlers to 5 year olds

  • jumping and hopping
  • follow the leader
  • ball games
  • hide and seek
  • sandpit play
  • walking or riding places
  • kite flying at the park.

6 to 12 year olds

  • hopscotch
  • scooter or bike riding
  • skating or skateboarding
  • walking to school
  • playing on the trampoline
  • follow the leader
  • ten pin bowling.

13 to 18 year olds

  • walking with friends
  • bike riding
  • adventure playgrounds
  • water sports
  • dancing
  • skating or skateboarding
  • team sports.

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