Video games are considered to be part of overall screen time that also includes TV and computers. The recommended amount of screen time each day for children is:
- 0 hours for 0-2 year olds
- 1 hour for 2-5 year olds
- 2 hours of entertainment for 5-17 year olds.
The research shows that screen time may cause harms such as language delay for 0-2 year olds and they benefit more from being active, playing and listening to music. The time limits for older children aim to prevent health problems such as addictive behaviour, obesity due to too little physical activity, and overuse problems such as wrist and/or arm pain.
What to do?
Keeping to these time limits can present challenges. For example, you need to take into account the mobility of video games that can be played on smart phones and tablets. In addition, video games aren’t just about entertainment, they can also be educational.
One measure that can help is setting firm family rules for when video games can and can’t be played (such as, not on school days). Parents should also become familiar with games to decide if the content is educational or entertainment. Ways to help you learn about video games include:
1. Play video games with your child.
You can have fun together and also help them choose games with educational value and positive messages.
2. Look at reputable reviews for specific games such as on the Australian Council on Children and the Media website
For more information: See your GP or go to www.health.gov.au and search for “Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour.”