Do you have kids between the ages of 5-18? If the answer is yes, chances are that they’re looking at some type of electronic device right now.

An ongoing national survey run by the Australian Institute of Family Studies shows that Australian kids are spending more time staring at their screens as they get older.

Age (Years) Looking at Screens (Hours)
4-5 2.2
12-13 3.3

Screentime becomes even higher in New Zealand where kids aged between 16-24 are now spending approximately 8.9 hours glued to electronic devices. This is far above the current recommended average, which suggests that kids aged 5-18 years old should have no more than two hours’ screentime and that children under the age of two should have no screentime at all.

But is it really fair to expect kids to keep to these standards when we live in such a technology-dominated world? When it’s likely that Mum and Dad spend just as much time – and more – on their devices.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently announced their intention to tweak and rethink screentime guidelines. Spokesman Dr Ari Brown noted that kids these days are growing up as “digital natives” and that “outdated” policies needed to be changed.

“Look at our world. It has changed… and so we have to approach the world as it is and figure out ways to make it work,” she said.

Are you worried about your kids’ screentime? Here are a few things to consider.

1. Quality over quantity. 

What kind of content are your kids consuming? It’s more important to consider the quality of that content, rather than the quantity of their screentime. There’s a big difference between Skyping with an overseas relative for five hours and playing Candy Crush for the same amount of time.

2. What about you?

How much time do YOU spend on electronic devices? People may be concerned about kids who spend too much time on their phones and tablets but I’ve seen plenty of adults who do the same thing! There are a number of free apps that can monitor your phone usage. Try monitoring yours for a week and you might be surprised at how big your digital footprint is!

3. Offer something better.

Why are kids spending so much time on phones and tablets? Well, maybe they’re bored and they’re looking for something entertaining. It’s not enough to take away their devices – offer them an alternative. Maybe it’s a family day out to the beach. Maybe it’s a visit to the pool. Maybe it’s a camping trip somewhere remote and without reception. Just as long as it’s an opportunity for you to spend some quality time together – without looking at screens.

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