New research has revealed an overwhelming amount of school-aged Aussie kids were given more than three hours per day of screen time during lockdown - excluding time spent for learning and remote educational activities.
The survey conducted by Royal Melbourne Children's Hospital, found nearly 80 per cent of children over the age of five we're spending double the recommended two hours in front of screens while at home.
The main digital consumption was for entertainment purposes - including gaming, viewing video content and social media.
The research also revealed 70 per cent of Aussie parents are now planning on reducing the amount of time their children spend on screens, as their children return to face-to-face learning.
Limiting screen time can be immensely challenging for parents who now have kids accustomed to regularly consuming their favorite digital entertainment.
Digital Wellbeing Expert, Dr. Kristy Goodwin understands this issue and the common problem parents face of implementing digital restrictions at home.
"It's challenging for families to completely restrict young children's access to screens, especially if they have older siblings", she told 9Honey Parenting.
Though it's tough, she believes it is necessary for parents to start "articulating digital borders and boundaries" now that lockdown is over.
"Excessive screen time can displace the time available for children to meet vital developmental milestones. There's an opportunity cost associated with screen time - for every hour spent on a digital device, it's an hour spent not doing something else", Dr Goodwin explains.
Setting screen time limitations on children of all ages is essential to prevent any 'techno-tantrums'.
"The minute you hand your toddler your smartphone is when you need to establish and enforce limits. Children's brains are still developing and they don't yet have the brain architecture required to regulate their behaviour - hence, why they throw techno-tantrums when you digitally-disconnect them", she reveals.
While excessive screen time can have negative effects, there is also evidence to suggest well-designed, age-appropriate technologies can also support a child's development.
"The challenge for parents is to find high-quality content that encourages movement or learning that children also enjoy using", Dr Goodwin continued. "Look for good quality content and try, as best you can, to watch with them and discuss what they're seeing on the screen."
One example of high-quality media content she gives is Applaydu - an edutainment app designed specifically for kids aged 4-9 years, based on guidelines provided by Oxford University's Department of Education.
The app was recently launched by Kinder Surprise and it allows children to engage in a range of stimulating games and activities to boost their cognitive skills including motor skills, reading, writing, mathematics and memory.
Dr Goodwin speaks very highly of it, "Parents not only have the assurance that their child is learning whilst 'playing' with the app, but also have the peace-of-mind that they're in a child-friendly environment: the the app offers no ads, or in-app purchases so kids can't have any 'accidents' where they spend a fortune on in-app purchases which can easily occur in some apps."
Another thing she encourages parents to do that will help them set screen time boundaries for their kids is to be good digital role models.
"As parents we need to carve out intentional times of the day with our kids where we'll put devices down. It's not always easy to do - I say this as a Mum who also struggles to moderate her tech-habits around her three kids). Kids' brains have mirror neurons so they're biologically wired to copy and imitate us", she told 9Honey Parenting.
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