Kids and screens

Families have never had so many screens.

Smartphones, tablets, video consoles, computers and TVs – many families have multiple devices at home.

They can be great tools for learning, communication and work.

They can also be a lot of fun.

But spending more time on screens leaves less time for talk.

What do we know about families and screens? 

Tasmanian families have told us that managing screen time is a real challenge. 

Nationally, 83% of parents think their kids are negatively distracted by screens. 

65% said talking to their kids about the time they spent on screens caused conflict.

How much screen time is too much for our kids? 

Under two years of age, it’s recommended that kids aren’t exposed to screens, apart from video chatting.

After that age, there’s no one-size-fits-all rule.

It’s all about finding the right balance for your family.
Does your kids’ screen time mean they spend less time doing things that are important to your family?

Do they spend less time:

  • Talking to you and others around them  
  • Playing outside 
  • Spending time with friends or family 
  • Playing sport or being physically active 
  • Being creative? 

What can I do to manage screen time in my family? 

You could: 

  • Set the amount of hours every day your child can access screens
  • Set time limits for different kinds of screen time. For example: gaming, YouTube, TV and social media
  • Have screen free days every week
  • Make certain times or rooms screen-free. For example: mealtimes, bedrooms or in the car
  • Keep devices away from your child’s bedroom overnight, so they get a good night’s sleep
  • Draw up a family plan for screen time use.

The eSafety Commissioner recommends you draw up a family tech agreement from the time your child is 3 years old. You can download their tech agreement . Or you can draw up your own.

Remember your kids are watching how YOU use screens. If you want your kids to spend less time on screens, you might need to change your screen habits as well.

Negative effects of screen time 

Research into the effects of screen time on kids is changing all the time.

We do know that that screen time can:

  • Reduce the time kids spend talking to friends and family. This can impact their language development. It can also make them feel isolated. 
  • Affect sleep and concentration. We know that the light emitted from screens can affect sleep. It’s best to avoid screen time in the hour before bedtime. Kids who take their devices to bed are particularly at risk of not getting enough sleep. This can impact learning at school. 
  • Cause weight gain due to less physical activity. 

Further information

Screens can be a valuable and enjoyable part of life. 

The eSafety Commissioner has lots of resources to help you keep your kids safe and informed about online activities.

The Gonski Institute for Education in NSW is part of an international study into the impact of screens on our kids. You can read more about their Growing Up Digital Australia project here.