Volume 3 Number 1

Screen time for children and young people: opportunities, risks and contemporary challenges

Elizabeth M Forster

For referencing Forster EM. Screen time for children and young people: opportunities, risks and contemporary challenges. Journal of Children and Young People’s Health 2022; 3(1):3

DOI https://doi.org/10.33235/jcyph.3.1.3




In recent years, children and adolescents have increasingly been exposed to screen time, whether via fixed and traditional screens such as television and computers or through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.1 The World Health Organization reports their screen time recommendations alongside physical activity recommendations, for example, for children aged 2–4 years at least 180 minutes per day of physical activity is recommended and no more than 60 minutes a day of screen-based activities.2 For children aged 5–12 and adolescents 13-17 years, 60 minutes of daily moderate physical activity is recommended as well as no more than 2 hours per day of screen time.2,3 Unfortunately, many children and young people are not meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines and are exceeding the recommended screen time.2,3 While screen time may lead to risks including more sedentary behaviours and impact weight, sleep quality, self-regulation ability, attention to tasks and development4, there are also benefits to a limited amount of screen time, including opportunities for play and social connection.1 The global Covid-19 pandemic resulted in lockdowns that moved school into distance online learning mode and this is an example of screen time enabling opportunities for learning among children and young people.5 During these lockdowns children and families were able to connect online with relatives and friends who were also isolated. However, despite these benefits of some targeted screen time, screen engagement that exceeds the recommended daily timeframes represents a concern for child and adolescent health and development.

Our latest edition presents current research regarding screen time and internet use by young children and adolescents from both parent and adolescent perspectives. Reddan et al. have explored Australian parents’ reported adherence to recommended screen time guidelines for their young children. They reveal parents are a key gatekeeper and role model for appropriate screen time for their young children. In their study of Indonesian adolescents, Hidayat and Wanda have identified correlates of internet addiction including anxiety and poor sleep quality. These findings are important for our paediatric nursing care and conversations with parents, children and young people. We can use these understandings to strengthen positive parenting and to promote optimal wellbeing and development. I hope you enjoy this edition and that it informs your practice with children and young people. Best wishes,


Elizabeth M Forster
RN, BN, Master of Nursing, Grad Cert Education
(Higher Ed) (QUT), Grad Cert Positive Psychology (CQU), PhD (UQ), Centaur Fellow, SFHEA
Senior Lecturer, Postgraduate Program Director (Nursing & IPC), Program Advisor Paediatric Nursing, Griffith University School of Nursing & Midwifery, QLD


  1. Paudel S, Jancey J, Subedi N, et al. Correlates of mobile screen media use among children aged 0–8: a systematic review. BMJ Open 2017;7:e014585. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014585
  2. World Health Organization. Guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2019.
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australia’s children. Cat.no.CWS 69. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; 2020.
  4. Eales L, Gillespie S, Alstat, RA, et al. Children’s screen and problematic media use in the United States before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Child Dev 2021;92(5):e866–e882.
  5. Lee, S, Kim, S, Suh, S, et al. Relationship between screen time among children and lower economic status during elementary school closures due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. BMC Pub Health 2022;22(1):160–160.


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