Excessive screen time is becoming a distressing problem in Australian households. Yes, the stats look scary. The Australian Child Health Poll confirm that kids as young as 6 years are spending around 43.6 hours on screens each week outside of school.
This is roughly six hours and one-quarter of their day!
The same study shows that parents struggle and are often overwhelmed. Finding a clear way to curb down their kids’ screen time is no easy task causing many family conflicts. And that’s not even all they worry about.
They are also scared about the side effects of screen addiction. More time on the screen often comes with increased laziness, reduced activity time and ultimately the risk of childhood obesity. Not to mention their fear of cyberbullies on the web.
While the effects are often negative, we should also ask ourselves about the origin of the problem. Why do kids spend so much time glued to screens like zombies? There’s no one key driver but a combination of different reasons.
The first one is quite obvious; we have more screens around us than ever before. Families have TVs, smartphones and tablets at home. At school, kids have started using laptops and tablets. Even in public spaces screens pop everywhere. It’s hard to get kids in a space with no screens at all.
At the same time, giving kids a screen to entertain them for a moment is just so convenient. Nobody wants to be a bad parent, but even the best mum or dad need time to get things done sometimes.
Last but not least, it’s been proven that the screen time of kids correlates with their parents’ time on devices. In other words: kids really imitate parents and copy their behaviour – the more you spend on the phone, the more your kids will.
Now you might think that screen addiction only affects the average Aussie family, but that’s not true. Four-time soccer Olympian and Elanation coach Melissa Barbieri revealed to us last month that she’s been experiencing similar issues with her young daughter.
“I see it with my five-year-old. She gets frustrated and rather aggressive when she is on the iPad for too long. I know that these emotions don’t come up when we’re outside doing sports and having fun together. It’s really important to get the balance right for the sake of a harmonious family life,” she said.
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