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Virtually impossible: limiting Australian children and adolescents daily screen based media use

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posted on 2023-05-21, 13:53 authored by Houghton, S, Hunter, SC, Rosenberg, M, Wood, L, Zadow, C, Karen MartinKaren Martin, Shilton, T

Background: Paediatric recommendations to limit children's and adolescents' screen based media use (SBMU) to less than two hours per day appear to have gone unheeded. Given the associated adverse physical and mental health outcomes of SBMU it is understandable that concern is growing worldwide. However, because the majority of studies measuring SBMU have focused on TV viewing, computer use, video game playing, or a combination of these the true extent of total SBMU (including non-sedentary hand held devices) and time spent on specific screen activities remains relatively unknown. This study assesses the amount of time Australian children and adolescents spend on all types of screens and specific screen activities.

Methods: We administered an online instrument specifically developed to gather data on all types of SBMU and SBMU activities to 2,620 (1373 males and 1247 females) 8 to 16 year olds from 25 Australian government and non-government primary and secondary schools.

Results: We found that 45% of 8 year olds to 80% of 16 year olds exceeded the recommended < 2 hours per day for SBMU. A series of hierarchical linear models demonstrated different relationships between the degree to which total SBMU and SBMU on specific activities (TV viewing, Gaming, Social Networking, and Web Use) exceeded the < 2 hours recommendation in relation to sex and age.

Conclusions: Current paediatric recommendations pertaining to SBMU may no longer be tenable because screen based media are central in the everyday lives of children and adolescents. In any reappraisal of SBMU exposure times, researchers, educators and health professionals need to take cognizance of the extent to which SBMU differs across specific screen activity, sex, and age.


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BMC Public Health





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Faculty of Education


BioMed Central Ltd

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Middlesex House, 34-42 Cleveland St, London, England, W1T 4Lb

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© 2015 Houghton et al.; licensee BioMed Central. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License,( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.

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