Australian parents with multiple children often struggle to ensure their kids meet screen time guidelines, research shows.
The new study finds slightly more than half of families kept to the guidelines when their children were in the same age-based category.
In stark contrast, however, only 23% of families with children in different aged-based screen time categories were adhering to the recommendations, says Leigh Tooth, associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Queensland.
“We also found toddlers exceeded guidelines by matching the screen time of their older siblings, in a national study of 1,993 mothers and 4,543 children aged under 12,” Tooth says. “And, in a sub-sample of children aged 2 to 4 years who had siblings in different aged-based screen time categories, many exceeded guidelines by up to 92%.”
In Australia, and other countries, screen time guidelines are based on age.
The current recommendations are no screen time for children younger than 2, one hour per day for those aged 2 to 4 years, and two hours per day for kids between five and 12 years of age.
These guidelines failed to account for the reality of parenting multiple children of different ages, Tooth says.
“While many guidelines now focus on quality over quantity, such as co-viewing and enriching content, difficulties remain for families with several children,” she says.
“We would like to see current screen time guidelines modified to accommodate families with multiple children and more policies and resources with practical tips and strategies for parents.
“Screen time guidelines, like those for physical activity, nutrition, and sleep, are an important guide for parents to help children develop a healthy balance across their daily activities and reduce the risk of developing a chronic disease in the future.”
Researchers used data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) and Mothers and their Children’s Health (MatCH) sub-study involving families with three children under 13 years old.
The study appears in JAMA Pediatrics.
The Australian Government Department of Health funded the work.
Source: University of Queensland