Children’s screen time

From Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, 2015 Report

Children’s Screen Time

LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2015 chapter— September 2016

Key findings

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.

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