Children’s screen time
From Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, 2015 Report
LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2015 chapter— September 2016
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.
Read the LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2015: Chapter 5 -Australian children’s screen time and participation in extracurricular activities