Aussie Kids’ Screen Time More Than 2 Hours a Day — But It’s Not All Bad

A new national research poll of Australian parents of children aged 12 or under conducted for online children’s reading program ABC Reading Eggs found kids were spending an average of 2.4 hours a day on screens.

The Reading Eggs survey — conducted by YouGov Galaxy on an omnibus survey across Australia between 9 and 11 July, 2019 — found that a majority of kids (26 per cent) used screens 1-2 hours a day, followed by 21 per cent at 2-3 hours per day, 17 per cent at under one hour per day, and 15 per cent at 3-4 hours a day.

The survey also reported that the older the child, the more time they were likely to spend on screens. Parents of 9 to 12 year-olds reported their children spent 2.8 hours a day on devices, a figure that dropped to 2.4 hours a day for 5- to 8 year-olds.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, children of full-time working parents spent more time on screens (2.5 hours on average) compared to those who parents who did not work (2.1 hours on average).

So with all these stats to hand, the question has to be asked: is all screen time a waste of time? A newly released review of 58 studies from 23 countries found overall screen time had no association with a child’s school performance (ages 4 -18). Examining the different kinds of screen time, the international study, published by JAMA Pediatrics, a peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Medical Association, discovered time spent on certain activities was associated with poorer academic achievement. For instance, watching more TV negatively impacted language and math abilities.

ABC Reading Eggs literacy consultant Sara Leman, an experienced teacher and literacy specialist, says screen time can have a positive impact on learning. “Today’s digital age is vastly different to the world our grandparents knew. Children are surrounded by an array of interactive media and technology, which when used wisely, can optimise and support learning to read.”

Leman promotes the kidSAFE certified app as an ideal way for young children to enjoy positive screen time in a safe environment. “The program builds fundamental reading skills in just 15 minutes a day , which is well below the WHO recommendation of no more than one hour of screen time for children aged 3 to 4,” she says.

Children are surrounded by an array of interactive media and technology, which when used wisely, can optimise and support learning to read.”

Leman says the nature of being literate has undergone “drastic changes” in recent decades. “Today’s world is far more information-rich and fast-paced. Children are not only expected to learn the five key skills of reading, but also how to interpret, connect with and utilise digital literacy skills. Many things that children will read in their future will not be print-based”.

The online ABC Reading Eggs program, for kids aged 2 to 13, has had much success since its inception more than ten years ago. The program — which covers the five essential components of reading in phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension — has been used by more than 10 million children worldwide.

“In today’s increasingly digital world, educational apps such as ABC Reading Eggs are providing reassurance for many parents who worry about too much passive screen time,” Ms Leman said.

“ABC Reading Eggs encourages children to work at their own individual level and to be actively engaged in their learning at all times. The program is educationally sound, highly motivational and rewarding. It allows parents to cheer their children on and to celebrate their child’s reading success.”


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