In this day and age we are surrounded by screens. Our children are watching us use our phones, ipads, computers, televisions and many more electronic devices from birth. Children are naturally drawn to the colourful movement on screens from a very young age and want to copy our behaviour. While there are some benefits screens have to offer, many children are spending too much time in front of screens and too little time being active, which can have negative implications for their health.
So how much screen time is too much? The Australian Government Department of Health 'Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines' states that to reduce health risks:
- children <2 years of age should not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media
- children 2-5 years of age should spend less than 1 hour per day watching television or other electronic media
- children 5-12 years should spend less than 2 hours per day watching television or other electronic media.
These guidelines are irrespective of cultural background, gender or ability.
There are many reasons why being active during childhood is important. Being active has many physical benefits as well as facilitating the development of social skills. Encouraging children to be active from a young age also helps them to develop good habits for later life. Physical benefits of regular physical activity include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Helping the muscles and bones to develop
- Improving posture
- Improving coordination
- Improving cardiovascular fitness
- Improving core stability and balance
- Improving flexibility
Try setting aside some time each day to go outside to play with your children, away from electronic devices!