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Kids’ screen time Aussie parents’ biggest worry

Brigid O’Connell, March 22, 2021 7:00PM Herald Sun

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Brothers Tommy, 8, and Ollie, 5, were both given iPads during lockdown to keep in touch with friends. Picture: Mark Stewart media_cameraBrothers Tommy, 8, and Ollie, 5, were both given iPads during lockdown to keep in touch with friends. Picture: Mark Stewart

health

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Excessive* screen time is the number one health concern of Australian parents.

The Royal Children’s Hospital National Child Health Poll ranked the top 10 health concerns of almost 2000 parents, with cyber bullying and bullying, and internet safety rounding out the top three worries parents had for their kids.

Paediatrician* Margie Danchin said after families endured a difficult year due to COVID restrictions, the results should serve to empower* parents to make positive changes.

“Similar to the poll results five years ago, it’s a really persisting* concern for parents around screen time,” Dr Danchin said.

“Kids are spending too much time online. That’s linked to concerns about physical activity and unhealthy diets.

“It’s time for a reset.

“The world has started opening up again. Kids are back at school. The message is really about getting kids off screens and getting them moving.”

Mental* health was ranked as a big concern by a third of parents, including mother of two Alison Anderson.

Ms Anderson said she and husband Chris gave in earlier than planned and got their sons iPads during last year’s COVID lockdown so they could keep in touch with family and friends.

The boys, aged 5 and 8, set their own rules for their use.

The family also prioritise* sitting down to dinner together as a way of checking in on the boys’ wellbeing.

“We talk about our challenges and our celebrations at the dinner table,” she said.

“It gets them talking and helps keep that connection.”

RCH Child Health Poll media_cameraOllie and Tommy having a kick of the footy outdoors. Picture: Mark Stewart

MORE TO KNOW
The Royal Children’s Hospital National Child Health Poll surveyed 1980 parents of children aged one month to less than 18 years.

Parents were concerned about:

  • Excessive screen time (57 per cent of parents were worried about this for all children);
  • Cyber bullying and bullying (53 per cent were worried about this for all children);
  • Lifestyle issues such as unhealthy diets (41 per cent) and lack of physical activity (38 per cent) were listed in the top health problems identified by parents;
  • Mental health problems (such as depression and anxiety) was a notable* concern by parents for all children in the community;
  • Ten per cent of parents reported stress and sleep are big problems for their own children.

For more information about The Good Friday Appeal, which raises funds for The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, visit  goodfridayappeal.com.au

GLOSSARY

  • excessive: more than necessary or good
  • paediatrician: children’s doctor
  • empower: give someone the power to do something
  • persisting: continuing to happen
  • mental: relating to the mind
    prioritise:
    treat something as very important
  • notable: worth noticing

EXTRA READING

How much screen time is too much?

Study finds ideal after-school screen hours

Increase in sitting prompts new physical activity push

Simple steps to ease your worries in tough times

QUICK QUIZ

  1. What organisation conducted this survey?
  2. Who was surveyed?
  3. Whose health was it about?
  4. What was the number one concern?
  5. What percentage of parents were worried about their children’s sleep and stress?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Health Report Card
Fill out your own health report card as honestly as you can addressing the concerns many parents have for their kids. You may like to take this task home and discuss with your parents how you think you’re going and any concerns or worries you both have.

NAME:

AGE:

HEALTH ISSUES (Broken bones, sore muscles, medical conditions):

SCREEN TIME PER DAY:

PHYSICAL EXERCISE PER DAY:

INTERNET SAFETY AWARENESS (How safe are you on the internet?)

BULLYING ISSUES OR CONCERNS:

MENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS:

DIET (How much fruit and vegetables do you eat?)

OVERALL HEALTH RATING OUT OF 10:

WHAT HEALTH GOALS WOULD YOU LIKE TO MAKE FOR YOUR PHYSICAL OR MENTAL HEALTH:

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Health and Physical education

2. Extension
Work with a partner and brainstorm some ways to get kids off screens and outside playing and moving.

How could you introduce some of these things in your own neighbourhood?

Time: allow minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Health and Physical education, Personal and social

VCOP ACTIVITY
Down-Level It
When you up-level a sentence, you do things to it to improve it: make it more interesting, or more complex.

But sometimes, when we read something it can be too complex and we don’t understand it very well. You ask someone to explain it to you, they do (in a simpler way) and you think, well why didn’t they just say that?

Go through the article and find a sentence or two that is complex, or hard to read.

Ask an adult what it means, or try and look some of the words up in the glossary.

Once you know what it means, see if you can rewrite it in a simpler way- down-level it.

Make sure you don’t change the meaning of the sentence in any way though.

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