Is screen-time the new junk food?

Sedentariness, aka sitting around too much, is an unanticipated outcome of the “mobile revolution.” And its health effects are just beginning to bite.

Here’s another reason to limit screen-time: sitting.

That’s the conclusion reached by the world’s first 24-hour movement guidelines, developed by experts across Australia and the world. And for all age-groups the biggest takeaway is just this: move more, sit less.  And the key to both? Limiting screen-time.

Across the board, kids who spend less time suctioned to a screen - and more time in motion - experience reduced health risks for obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure - and enjoy better growth, stronger muscles and bones, and better emotional and social well-being. 

Someone once called television the chewing gum of the mind. Taken together, our digital devices may be the Happy Meal with extra fries.

Toddlers should be physically active for at least three hours a day, according to the new Department of Health guidelines, and kids aged 5-12 need 60 minutes daily of “vigorous intensity” movement. That means activity that makes them “huff and puff” and can include jogging, fast biking, organised sport, or tasks involving lifting, carrying or digging.

Even the youngest babies “should not be sedentary, restrained or kept inactive for more than one hour at a time.” (Sleeping, thankfully, doesn’t count.)The experts do allow that “there are some activities, like reading, doing schoolwork, working on a computer, or travelling, that may need to be done while you are sitting.” Thanks guys! But as you might suspect the biggest culprit is not homework - it’s time spent scrolling, tapping, swiping and clicking.

Here are the recommended limits: 

Children under 2

NO screen time at all, on any device, including television. 

Children 2-5

LESS THAN one hour per day, all up, in front of a screen.

Children 5-12 and Teens (13-17)

NO MORE THAN two hours a day - and that’s adding together every minute spent on phone, TV, games or computers.

What can you do to limit your family’s screen-time? The new guidelines recommend:

  • Allocating specific time periods for electronic media use, preferably not during daylight hours when you can be active outside.

  • Rewarding good behaviour with active family time, rather than with electronic media use.

  • Turning off the TV, especially during meal times.

  • Making bedrooms TV- and computer-free zones.

  • Storing portable electronic devices, such as phones, tablets and electronic games, out of sight.  

  • Setting a good example – reduce your electronic media use for entertainment.

Family Zone can help you do all of that, and more. Our world-leading parental control solution lets you set the boundaries on any and all of your children’s devices, at home and on the go. Don’t just sit there! Go to and find out how.

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Topics: Cyber Bullying, Parental Controls, Mobile Apps, Cyber Safety, parenting, technology, digital parenting

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