A majority of Australian children are spending more than the recommended two-hour daily limit for screen time (watching television, on computers and playing electronic games).
At 4–5 years old, children average more than two hours screen time per week-day. By 12–13 years old, this increases to more than three hours average per week-day and almost four hours per weekend day. This means that up to 30% of a child’s waking time is spent in front of a screen.
The study found that children who engage in physical activities that they enjoy, will tend to also spend less time in front of screens.
Screen time by the numbers
TV is children’s main form of screen time, accounting for about 60% of total screen time.
By 13 years of age, the daily average was 150 minutes watching TV compared to 60 minutes on a computer and 45 minutes gaming.
TV viewing is higher on weekends than on weekdays.
Children who watch TV for more than two hours a day are more likely to have:
parents with low levels of education;
a TV in their bedroom; and
no household rules limiting TV viewing.
The more TVs there are in a house, the more likely a child is to watch excessive TV.
Around 60% of 4–5 year olds reported having more than two household TVs.
Around 20% of 6–7 year olds have a TV in their bedroom; at 12–13 years old this climbs to 45%.
Electronic games and computers
As children get older, their computer and electronic game time increases. The percentage of children spending at least one hour per weekday on a computer or gaming increases from 25% at 6 years of age to 53% by 11 years. This may be due to increased availability of devices, but perhaps also to increased computer-based homework.
Children spend more time on computers and games on the weekend. Boys play more games than girls, with 85% of 12–13 year boys gaming for at least an hour per weekend day, compared to 58% of girls.
LSAC ASR 2015 chapter Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, September 2016.