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Kids’ diaries reveal how healthy they felt in mind and body

Brigid O’Connell, June 1, 2017 5:50PM Herald Sun

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Reading level: orange

What would your diary reveal about how healthy you are?

Australian children were asked to fill out a computerised diary detailing how they used their time in five-minute blocks across two 24-hour periods. The children were also asked to fill in three questionaries about their quality of life when it came to their health.

More than 1450 children aged 11-12 years took part in the study by the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI) and the results are in.

The findings show children who spend the most time on school activities, are moderately* active and have low screen time, are the most physically and psychologically* healthy.

Those with low exercise levels and moderate amounts of screen time, had the poorest self-reported health.

How kids spend their time media_cameraArleigh plays video games while his mate Luke tries to entice him to get active. Picture: Alex Coppel.

The researchers identified four distinct groups of how kids spend their time — the Potterers, Studious Actives, Techno Actives and Stay Home Screenies.

The Studious Actives group — the all-rounder and high-achievers who spent the most time on school, study and chores, and the least time in front of computers or phones — scored the highest on the health tests compared to the least-active Potterers group.

Some Potterers would often play video games for eight hours straight and could not recall if they had eaten or gone to the toilet in that time.

Stay Home Screenies also scored lower with physical and psychological health compared to the studious children.

Kids with more screen time report lower health levels. media_cameraKids with more screen time report lower health levels.

MCRI researcher and lead author Dr Monica Wong said it was known that when looked at in isolation more physical activity, less screen time and proper sleep improved health, but there had been little research into how kids managed their time overall and the impact on quality of life.

“We wanted to see if there is a specific lifestyle associated with quality of life,” Dr Wong said.

“We want to target the group of children at risk of having the lowest quality of life, and potentially the highest disease burden* in the future.

“If we can prevent that from happening while they’re young and healthy, we can potentially prevent those cardiovascular*, respiratory* and mental health diseases in adulthood.”

The study, published in the journal The American Academy of Pediatrics, is one of the early results released from a national study into the health of 11-12-year-old children, called the Child Health Checkpoint.

Researchers will now follow these children as they grow to see what lifestyle choices they make in the future.

Heidelberg Primary Active Kids media_cameraHeidelberg Primary School has some of the most active kids in the state. Picture: Josie Hayden


  • studious actives: The healthiest group; the all-rounders and high achievers. They spent the most time studying, low screen time, moderate physical activity.
  • Techno actives: They spend most of their free time in sports training. Moderate screen time and lowest screen time.
  • Stay home screenies: They spent the most time on screens and the most time at home. They spend the least time on transport and house chores.
  • Potterers: They have the worst self-reported quality of life, with the lowest amount of exercise and moderately high screen time.


  • moderate: average
  • psychological: the mental and emotional state of a person
  • burden: a heavy load
  • cardiovascular: relating to the heart and blood vessels
  • respiratory: relating to breathing and the lungs


1. Conducting a study
Read the article carefully and then answer the following questions.

  • Who conducted this study?
  • Why was this study undertaken?
  • What did it find out?
  • How is this information helpful?
  • Imagine you can interview the people who conducted this study to get more information. What questions do you have for them?

Write 3 questions that would help you understand more about this research.

Write a slogan to encourage students to spend less time in front of a screen and more time being active. Create a poster with your slogan. Use a creative design to ensure it has an impact.

Time: allow about 50 minutes to complete this task
Curriculum links: English, The Arts – Media, Health and Physical Education

2. What group do you belong to?
What do you do with your day? Create a diary for you to complete, which details how you spend your time over a typical 48-hour period. After you have collected your data, calculate the total amount of time you spend in each of the following areas.

  • Sleeping:
  • Physical Activity:
  • School:
  • Screen time:
  • Chores:
  • Study/Homework:
  • Other:
  • Which category do you think that you belong to?
  • What indication could this give you about your health?
  • Are there areas that you feel you could make improvements?

 Use the chart function in a ‘Word’ document or use an ‘Excel’ spreadsheet or similar to turn your 48-hour diary into a graph showing how you spend your time.

Compare your graph to others in your class. What did you notice?

Time: allow at least 60 minutes to complete this task
Curriculum links: English, Health and Physical Education, Mathematics, Digital Technologies

Extra resources: Calculator, access to a computer with Word or Excel

1. Up-Level it!
Choose a random sentence from the article and try to “Up-Level it!” Up Levelling is where you look at a sentence and try to improve it by adding some VCOP. Not every sentence requires up levelling as short sentences or simple sentences can be powerful and effective. But for this activity, you are free to change as much as you can.

For today’s task, at the very minimum you will need to do the following: Eg:

1. Add a WOW word


2. Add some higher level punctuation.

eg: I went to the shop

Up Levelled: Rushing frantically out the door, I hurried over to the shops!

Create some sentences yourself and challenge a partner to Up-Level it.

Time: allow approximately 20 minutes
Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP.

Activity provided by Andrell Education —

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