Measuring ‘tweens’ use of screen-based devices: new research

Parents of ‘tweens’ will get a report card on how their child uses screen-based devices and whether that use meets national guidelines.

The move comes as part of new Australian research which will measure the amount of time that children, aged 8 to 11 years, spend looking at screens.

The research will also look at the children’s sleep patterns and physical activity.

Australian Catholic University (ACU) Institute for Positive Psychology and Education (IPPE)
Professor Chris Lonsdale said many parents were concerned their children were spending too much time using screen-based devices, not sleeping well, and not getting enough exercise.

“Parents are concerned for good reason. Australian kids are among the least active in the world and many do not get enough sleep,” Professor Lonsdale said.

“They’re also going backwards – they’re about 20% less fit than their parents were at the same age. These daily behaviours have many serious and lasting physical and mental health implications.”

The Australian Government has released 24-hour movement guidelines for children and young people, which includes the following recommendations:

  • Accumulating 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day involving mainly aerobic activities;
  • Several hours of a variety of light physical activities;
  • Limiting sedentary recreational screen time to no more than 2 hours per day;
  • Breaking up long periods of sitting as often as possible;
  • An uninterrupted 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night for those aged 5–13 years and 8 to 10 hours per night for those aged 14–17 years; and
  • Consistent bed and wake-up times.

“Our study is an excellent opportunity to learn more about where your child fits within these important national guidelines,” Professor Lonsdale said.

The non-intrusive study involves wearing a fit bit-style activity tracker and a sleep monitor.

These monitors will provide top quality, objective evidence for parents about their children’s sleep quality and their physical activity levels. 

Parents/guardians of participating children will receive a report which details their child’s 24-hour movement data and adherence to Australia’s new 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Young People. 

The study is seeking parental permission for 30 children, aged between 8 to 11 and living in Sydney, to participate in the research. Parents/guardians who would like their child involved can contact:


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