Safe use of technology


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Government of SA - Safe Use of Technology

For children today, TVs, computers, gaming devices, mobile phones and tablets are part of everyday life. Screen technology is a big part of how they learn, socialise and have fun.

There are health risks for children when they spend excessive amounts of time in front of screens, or use devices inappropriately. Parents can help children stay safe and healthy as they get the most from these technologies. It is important that children develop healthy screen habits early, and have a balance of activities in their life.Photo of a boy working on computer

Children and screens

Screens of all types and sizes have become a part of life for many families. They provide quick access to information, entertainment and connection with family and friends.

Children’s use of computers, gaming devices, tablets and mobile phones means they are spending more time in front of screens than ever before. The amount of time they watch TV has not reduced.

This extra screen time has come at the cost of other things which are important for children’s healthy development. More time on screens means children are spending less time:

For parents struggling to fit in the demands of work and family, screens can be an easy and affordable way to keep children occupied. It is important however to remember that families are a major influence on how children use their time. The habits children learn early in life are likely to continue into adulthood.

Help children learn that free time doesn’t always mean screen time. Having lots of other activities they enjoy helps children have balance in their life and a range of skills and interests.

Screen time

Too much screen time for children has been linked to:

Recommended screen times

Recommendations1 for children’s daily use of all screens, including TVs, computers, tablets, phone screens and games are:

Tips for reducing screen time

It is likely that many children spend more time in front of screens than parents realise, especially with so many new screens that entertain. It might seem like a big task to reduce the amount of time children spend in front of screens, but every small step is a move in the right direction. Fifteen minutes less screen time a day can soon get you to your goal.

It helps to involve your children in planning how to reduce viewing time. Finding fun ways that make it easier for them to cut back will also help.

Your plan for reducing screen time could include:

It is also important to be a good role model and look at ways you can reduce your own screen time. Children are less likely to resist making changes if they see you doing it too.

It can take time to change habits. You may need to supervise time limits until children get used to the changes — they can be very focused on what they are doing. Expect resistance but be consistent and stick to the agreed plan.

Risk of injury

Children are at risk of injury when they use technology frequently, including:

Injuries to children can be more serious and difficult to treat than injuries to adults.

The good news is that children who are active and fit and involved in whole-body activities every day are less likely to be injured when using technology.

Computers

Help prevent injury by making sure children:

If your child is using a laptop or notepad computer for longer periods, a separate keyboard can help prevent wrist and arm problems.

Mobile phones

Injuries can be caused by holding phones between the neck and shoulder. Using the same fingers, especially thumbs, all the time when texting or swiping a touch screen can cause injury.

It is very important that young people don’t use a mobile phone when driving a car or walking where there is traffic. Accidents related to mobile phone use are increasing.

Gaming devices

There is a risk of physical injury with frequent gaming, in particular to the hands and wrists, neck and back. Games which involve lots of fast or repetitive hand movement, or game controllers which involve over-extending or over-use of the thumbs or any other body part may increase your child’s risk of RSI.

Children may also develop eye strain, dizziness or even nausea from constantly focusing on a screen.

It can help to:

Looking for more information

ParentLink - for other parenting guides, online parenting information:

Child and Family Centres - for parenting information and support

Raising Children’s Network - covering topics for parenting newborns to teens


This guide’s content was produced by Parenting SA.

© Department of Education and Child Development, Government of South Australia. Reproduced with permission and adapted by the ACT Government to reflect Australian Capital Territory laws (11/17).

Important: This information is not intended to replace advice from a qualified practitioner.


Published by ParentLink
Community Services Directorate, GPO Box 158, Canberra ACT 2601, email parentlink@act.gov.au, telephone 13 34 27.

ACT Government Publication No. 16/0585 (July 2016)

The text for this topic is copyright Department of Health, Government of South Australia.