.

  • Written by Brittany Huber, Postdoctoral researcher, Swinburne University of Technology
Guidelines advise children under two shouldn't have any screen time, but most do anyway. Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

Most (80%) Australian parents worry children spend too much time with screens.

But what children are doing on and off screen matters more than how much time they’re exposed to screen media.

Too much time?

There was a time when society was concerned about children reading. If kids are reading, how will they complete their chores or homework?

The fear that time spent with media replaces other “acceptable” activities of childhood is often referred to as the displacement hypothesis. One such concern is that screen time occupies time spent on physical activity.


Read more: What is physical activity in early childhood, and is it really that important?


Because screen time is often sedentary, researchers have investigated whether it displaces the time children spend being physically active. But the relationship between screen time and physical activity is not straightforward.

Spending time using a screen doesn’t automatically mean less time on physical activity. from shutterstock.com

Low levels of screen time do not always equate to higher levels of physical activity. And when there is a relationship between more screen time and less physical activity, it’s often a result of excessive daily screen time.

The Australian guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour advise children under two avoid screen time entirely. But a nationally representative poll conducted by the Royal Children’s Hospital found 63% of children aged two and under had screen exposure.

For children aged two to five, the Australian guidelines encourage parents to limit the time children spend with screens to no more than one hour a day. The child health poll found around 72% of children in this age group exceeded this recommendation.


Read more: Look up north. Here's how Aussie kids can move more at school, Nordic style


So, most Australian families are exceeding the guidelines, which are essentially built on a premise that isn’t clear-cut. Not all screen time is “bad”.

Is screen time bad?

A 2004 study from the United States explored the average time children spent watching television per day when they were aged one and three, and whether this affected their attention span in later years.

They found watching TV in the early years was associated with a higher risk of attention problems when these children were seven. But the research didn’t test the types of programs the children were watching.

In 2007, the same researchers looked at the effects of the content children watched. They found an association between watching violent or entertaining television such as Scooby Doo and Rugrats before the age of three and an increased risk of attention problems five years later.

But there was no such association when it came to educational content such as Sesame Street.

Educational content is better than entertainment. from shutterstock.com

So, content plays a role, but the child’s age also matters. In this same study, the type of content viewed by four- and five-year-olds did not affect their attention five years later.

The above studies describe changes over time. But other studies looked at the immediate effects of different screen content on children’s executive functioning – the thinking required to problem solve and stay on task.


Read more: Two-hour screen limit for kids is virtually impossible to enforce


These studies found exposure to educational content didn’t hinder children’s subsequent executive functioning. But these abilities were depleted in four- and six-year-olds who had just watched fast and fantastical shows that played with the bounds of physics and reality.

What if you use screens with your children?

Decades of television research has shown children under three years old learn better from live interactions than from two-dimensional sources. So, these young children have little to gain from screens in the absence of a parent or peer.

Television meant for adult audiences, as well as television on in the background, disrupts the quality of children’s play and parent-child interactions that are critical for early language and social development.

The adverse effects of this type of screen exposure are due to limiting both the frequency and quality of interactions between child and caregiver. In the presence of background television, parents are less attentive and responsive to their child.


Read more: Let them play! Kids need freedom from play restrictions to develop


Parents’ own device use can be detrimental to the interactions they have with their children. Smartphone use can cause parents to be less attentive and responsive to their children.

All this is important to be mindful of, especially during the early years when these interactions directly contribute to language learning and social skills.

But what about if a parent uses a screen together with their child?

A 2014 study found preschoolers’ storybook comprehension and parent-child interactions did not significantly differ between a traditional book and an electronic book.

However, the quality of play and parent-child interactions are reduced with electronic toys as compared to traditional toys.

So, what screen time is OK?

To have healthy, positive, quality screen media experiences, parents could ask the following questions:

Is the screen content

  • optimally challenging (meaning not too difficult or too easy)?

  • engaging (does it have age-appropriate features that maintain attention and invite participation)?

  • meaningful (can children relate the content to their lives)?

  • interactive, in the physical or social sense. Young children can actually form relationships with screen characters, which improves their learning. Older children can engage virtually in worlds such Minecraft, then talk about it in school.

Sharing the screen experience with an adult has benefits too. These include helping children understand the content and having an adult direct learning and ask questions.

The best way to engage in screen time with your children is to talk about it, ask questions and create opportunities to take the screen into the 3D world.

And, importantly, model the media use behaviour you want your children to adopt.

By occasionally employing the “digital babysitter”, you are not dooming your children’s success. What children are doing matters just as much, if not more, than how long they’re doing it for.


Parents can find more information about creating positive screen media experiences at:

Brittany Huber is affiliated with the Swinburne University of Technology Babylab.

Authors: Brittany Huber, Postdoctoral researcher, Swinburne University of Technology

Read more http://theconversation.com/stop-worrying-about-screen-time-its-your-childs-screen-experience-that-matters-118610

Your Airbnb guest could be a tenant. Until the law is cleared up, hosts are in limbo

A Victorian court decision that an Airbnb agreement had the status of a lease has profound implications for guests and hosts. Daniel Krason/ShutterstockWith summer holidays around the corner, many Vic...

Bill John Swannie, Lecturer in College of Law and Justice, Victoria University - avatar Bill John Swannie, Lecturer in College of Law and Justice, Victoria University

5 reasons I always get children picture books for Christmas

Children who love being read to are more likely to find learning to read easier. from shutterstock.comChristmas is just around the corner. If you’re wondering what to get your child, your friend...

Kym Simoncini, Associate professor Early Childhood and Primary Education, University of Canberra - avatar Kym Simoncini, Associate professor Early Childhood and Primary Education, University of Canberra

Tough nuts: why peanuts trigger such powerful allergic reactions

The humble peanut. Tasty for most, treacherous for some. Dr Dwan Price, Author providedFood allergens are the scourge of the modern school lunchbox. Many foods contain proteins that can set off an ove...

Dwan Price, Molecular Biologist and Postdoc @ Deakin AIRwatch pollen monitoring system., Deakin University - avatar Dwan Price, Molecular Biologist and Postdoc @ Deakin AIRwatch pollen monitoring system., Deakin University

Must end soon! But not too soon! The catch in time-limited sales tactics

Time-limited offers leverage risk-aversion. That is, the more you dislike risk, the more likely it is you will take the bait and buy now. www.shutterstock.comAs Christmas shopping ramps up, you may be...

Daniel Zizzo, Professor and Academic Dean of the School of Economics, The University of Queensland - avatar Daniel Zizzo, Professor and Academic Dean of the School of Economics, The University of Queensland

Refugees without secure visas have poorer mental health – but the news isn't all bad

Refugees without permanent visas can experience a prolonged sense of insecurity and displacement. From shutterstock.comThere are more than 29.4 million forcibly displaced asylum seekers and refugees a...

Yulisha Byrow, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UNSW - avatar Yulisha Byrow, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UNSW

God made the rainbow: why the Bible welcomes every colour in the gender spectrum

The Bible affirms, in various ways, the inclusion of those who diverge from male-female gender norms. ShutterstockThis article is part of a series exploring gender and Christianity “God made ...

Robyn J. Whitaker, Senior Lecturer in New Testament, Pilgrim Theological College, University of Divinity - avatar Robyn J. Whitaker, Senior Lecturer in New Testament, Pilgrim Theological College, University of Divinity

Jojo Rabbit: Hitler humour and a child's eye view of war make for dark satire

Jojo's allegiances in the film are split between an imagined friends and a real hideaway. Fox SearchlightJojo Rabbit is not Disney Studios’ first foray into Hitler parody. In 1943, it produced ...

Benjamin Nickl, Lecturer in International Comparative Literature and Translation Studies, University of Sydney - avatar Benjamin Nickl, Lecturer in International Comparative Literature and Translation Studies, University of Sydney

Boosting Your Child’s Learning through Play

Being a parent is probably the highest responsibility one has in a lifetime. Once it happens, it becomes ongoing and keeps posing new challenges to us. Of course, it may seem easy from some perspe...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

Different ideas of Christmas Gifts to give to your beloved ones

"CHRISTMAS GIFTS – one of the best festival gifts to give to your closed ones. Find Christmas presents for everybody on your checklist. Christmas is now here, and if that you haven't got a hop on ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Ultimate Guide to Sneakers and Sneaker Brands

When it comes to finding the perfect pair of sneakers, it can be hard to know where to start. Finding the right pair for any kind of occasion can be difficult, so brushing up on your knowledge of sn...

News Company - avatar News Company

Conservative landslide at UK's Brexit election; Trump's ratings rise on strong US economy

Led by Boris Johnson, the Conservatives won 56% of the vote and will have an 80-seat majority. AAP/EPA/ VIckie FloresAt the December 12 UK election, the Conservatives won 365 of the 650 House of Commo...

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne - avatar Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

Johnson's thumping win an electoral lesson in not just having policies, but knowing how to sell them

With Johnson's crushing win, Brexit will now happen. But this may also be the start of the break-up of the UK. AAP/EPA/Vickie FloresSo for all the talk of narrowing polls, tactical voting, and possib...

Simon Tormey, Professor of Politics, University of Bristol - avatar Simon Tormey, Professor of Politics, University of Bristol

View from The Hill: Morrison won't have a bar of public service intrusions on government's power

Scott Morrison has rejected or sidelined a number of recommendations from the long-awaited Thodey review. AAP/Paul BravenScott Morrison has rejected or sidelined a number of recommendations from the l...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

VIDEO: Michelle Grattan reflects on the year in politics

For their last video for the year, University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Deep Saini and Michelle Grattan look backwards to the big issues which have shaped political discourse. They discuss the surpr...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Choosing a Heavy Weighted Bathmats

Decorating your bathroom doesn’t finish with the paint choice or tile colours. You can change the whole room with the change of your towel set. There are no rules that say that you need to have a ...

News Company - avatar News Company

God as man, man as God: no wonder many Christian men today are having a masculinity crisis

How men saw God shaped how they saw themselves, and in turn, how they saw women. WikimediaThis article is part of our Gender and Christianity series. To understand contemporary Christian ideas about...

William Loader, Emeritus Professor of New Testament at Murdoch University, Murdoch University - avatar William Loader, Emeritus Professor of New Testament at Murdoch University, Murdoch University

Australia needs a national crisis plan, and not just for bushfires

Bushfires aren't the only catastrophic emergency Australia is likely to see. AAP Image/Mick TsikasCalls are growing for a national bushfire plan, including from former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull...

Andrew Gissing, General Manager, Risk Frontiers, Adjunct Fellow, Macquarie University - avatar Andrew Gissing, General Manager, Risk Frontiers, Adjunct Fellow, Macquarie University

Your Christmas shopping could harm or help the planet. Which will it be?

Many Australian consumers are concerned at the environmental impact of their shopping habits, especially at Christmas. AAPAustralian shoppers are set to spend $52.7 billion this Christmas. In the word...

Louise Grimmer, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania - avatar Louise Grimmer, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania

Right-swipes and red flags – how young people negotiate sex and safety on dating apps

For many young people, app dating is just part of regular dating life. freestocks.org/UnsplashPopular commentary on dating apps often associates their use with “risky” sex, harassment and ...

Kath Albury, Professor of Media and Communication, Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Swinburne University of Technology - avatar Kath Albury, Professor of Media and Communication, Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Swinburne University of Technology

Sick and Tired of Your Dead End Job? Try Teaching!

Tired of the same old grind at the office? Want an opportunity to impact lives both in your community and around the world? Do you love to travel and have new experiences? Teaching English is the perfect job for you! All you need is a willingness to ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Impact of an Aging Population in Australia

There’s an issue on the horizon that Australia needs to prepare for. The portion of elderly citizens that make up the country’s overall population is increasing, and we might not have the infrastructure in place to support this. Australians h...

News Company - avatar News Company

LifeStyle

Boosting Your Child’s Learning through Play

Being a parent is probably the highest responsibility one has in a lifetime. Once it happens, it...

Different ideas of Christmas Gifts to give to your beloved ones

"CHRISTMAS GIFTS – one of the best festival gifts to give to your closed ones. Find Christmas pr...

How to Have a Peaceful Retirement

Retirement is the time to treat yourself after a lifetime of working, to complete your bucket list...

Latest Wednesday Lotto Results

Wednesday Lotto draw 3917 Lucky numbers for this draw were 43 followed by 25. The rest of the...