Navigating children's safe passage through the digital world is a significant challenge of modern parenthood. And it is a challenge undertaken, mostly, without a roadmap.
How much time should kids spend on devices? What does healthy device usage look like? What are the impacts of getting the screen-time question wrong? How does parental screen-time affect kids? What strategies work to bring a healthy balance into the way we raise our kids in a technological world?
These are questions no other generation of parents has faced. And getting it wrong can have significant consequences.
To help you navigate the often confusing technology journey families are on, we’ve created this campaign: Digital Wellbeing. Nature Play WA promotes a three-step approach for managing screen time that involves reducing screen time where possible, replacing sedentary technology with active technologies (e.g. Pokemon Go), and balancing screen time with time playing outside.
Here you'll find what you need to know, discover "how to" guides and read the research that backs up our work.
Screen Time: Reduce, Replace, Balance
- Negotiate a written plan with your child to set boundaries for screen use, including digital-free zones and times in your home, as well as consequences if they don't adhere to the plan. The Telethon Children’s Institute recommends device use should not occur in bedrooms, and all screens should be switched off an hour before bedtime.
- Include rules that teach children to prioritise. On a school day, this may mean no electronics until they finish their homework or chores are complete.
- Use tech tools to manage digital access, like Google Family Link, Apple Screen Time controls and family-friendly WiFi routers and filters.
- Kids learn more from what they see than from what you say, so model healthy electronics use. Show your child you can put your device down too.
- Turn off notifications and alerts. Those pings and pop-ups immediately draw our attention to our devices and away from each other.
Our resources to help reduce screen time include:
What your child does with their screen is more important than how much time they spend on it. Look for games and apps that encourage children to get active and join in the fun with them. Some apps and games to consider are:
Apps: Nature Play WA’s Nature Passport, Pokemon Go and Geocaching
Console/Computer Games: Wii Fit U, Just Dance or Shape Up (Xbox One)
To help harness technology and inspire active play, check out our section on Screen Play
Use technology with your kids. Supervise, monitor and join them. Have shoulder to shoulder conversations and use the time to talk, to understand what they love, and to guide them (if needed).
Talk about privacy, security and good digital citizenship.
Help your child find other ways to have fun; outdoor play, sport, creative play, reading and socialising. If you’re looking for ideas, check out our Resources for Families section.
Set aside dedicated tech-free family time each week to connect with your kids. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Sometimes the simplest things – like a family bike ride, a picnic or a trip to the beach – can be the most memorable.
For more information, visit Building Digital Literacy and Active Play Ideas.
- Tech can be a positive influence when used appropriately
- Balance tech use with active, creative and social non-screen activities
- Actively engage with children while using tech
- Set boundaries to regulate tech use by negotiating a family media plan
- Model appropriate tech use
- Have fun with your kids – its one of the most influential experiences for self-regulation
Useful Screen Resources
Office of the eSafety Commissioner
Raising Children Network screen time resources
American Academy of Pediatrics & Common Sense Media guidebook on Age-Based Media Use Advice
Telethon Children’s Institute CoLab
Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour screen time recommendations
Nature Play WA digital wellbeing resources
Australian Parent’s Council screentime recommendations