This post is provided by Anjana Rajagopal (Ph.D. student at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia), who is conducting research with A/Prof Asaduzzaman Khan and Dr. Elizabeth Edwards on healthy screen-based behaviours among children and adolescents.
How would you define “healthy screen use” or “healthy screen-based behaviours” in children and adolescents?
Digital screen use has become ubiquitous in the modern world. However, excessive screen use can interfere with sleep and cause physical and mental health problems for children and adolescents. Thus, it is crucial to promote healthy screen use to optimise their health and well-being.
We aren’t aware of any agreed definition of healthy screen use for children and adolescents. Existing literature suggests that healthy screen use includes (but is not limited to) managing,
1. Screen time – setting limits, following 2-hour guidelines, engaging in alternative activities that enhance physical activity and improve sleep, and monitoring multi-screen engagement.
2. Screen content – knowing the purpose of using, age-appropriate digital content while watching and playing.
3. Screen interaction – understanding privacy and sharing, safety while engaging with virtual mates, and co-viewing with parents/carers.
As part of our research on healthy screen-based behaviours of children and adolescents, we would like to pose an open question to the network members to help us operationally define what comprises “healthy screen use”. Your assistance and input is appreciated. Please post any comments you have in the “comment section” at the bottom of this page and/or send your comments to Anjana Rajagopal (email@example.com) at the University of Queensland.
Some guidance may be drawn from the paper:
Saunders et al. International school-related sedentary behaviour recommendations for children and youth. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 19(39):1-14, 2022.
A healthy school-day includes:
• Breaking up periods of extended sedentary behaviour with both scheduled and unscheduled movement breaks
o at least once every 30 minutes for ages 5–11 years
o at least once every hour for ages 12–18 years
o consider a variety of intensities and durations (e.g., standing, stretching breaks, moving to another classroom, active lessons, active breaks).
• Incorporating different types of movement (e.g., light activities that require movement of any body parts, and moderate to vigorous activities that require greater physical effort) into homework whenever possible, and limiting sedentary homework to no more than 10 minutes per day, per grade level. For example, in Canada this means typically no more than 10 minutes per day in grade 1, or 60 minutes per day in grade 6.
• Regardless of the location, school-related screen time should be meaningful, mentally or physically active, and serve a specific pedagogical purpose that enhances learning compared to alternative methods. When school-related screen time is warranted,
o limit time on devices, especially for students 5–11 years of age;
o take a device break at least once every 30 minutes;
o discourage media-multitasking in the classroom and while doing homework;
o avoid screen-based homework within an hour of bedtime.
• Replacing sedentary learning activities with movement-based learning activities (including standing) and replacing screen-based learning activities with non-screen-based learning activities (e.g., outdoor lessons) can further support students’ health and wellbeing.
Don’t forget children and adolescents that use screens as part of high tech alternative and augmentative communication devices (e.g. speech generating devices).