It’s almost universally recommended that for optimal physical and mental health, children engage in 60 minutes of physical activity each day and limit the time they spend watching TV, playing computer games, and surfing the net on various devices.
In 2001, the American Academy of Paediatrics released guidelines recommending children under two years have no screen exposure and children over two should have no more than two hours for entertainment per day. The Australian Department of Health  followed suit, recommending no screen time for children under two, a maximum of one hour for children aged two to five years, and two hours for children aged five to 17.
The guidelines are based on past research suggesting <>  that high levels of screen-based media use can impact on children’s physical and mental health outcomes
But while achieving the physical activity part of the recommendation is realistic, limiting screen use to two hours is becoming virtually impossible <> . After all, young Australians use screens for homework, social media and entertainment.
Level of screen use
Our research team surveyed <>  more than 2,500 students across 25 Australian public and private schools to investigate how they use modern media devices.
We asked children from Years three, five, seven and nine (ages eight to 16 years) to indicate the number of hours they use screens to watch TV, play games, use social media and go online – from when they woke up until they went to bed, including before, during and after school.
The results revealed 47% of boys and 43% of girls in Year three exceeded the two hours screen time limit per day. The trend among older children is even higher: 70% of year nine boys and 92% of year nine girls exceeded the recommendations.
On average, Year three students had around three hours of screen time per day; by Year nine, this increased to four hours for boys and six hours for girls.
The most popular activities were watching TV (94%), listening to music or watching videos (92%), Googling (86%) and web research for school work (63%).
Boys were more likely to exceed the recommendation when playing computer games, while girls were more likely to do so through social networking, web use and watching TV, DVDs and movies.

This article was originally published on The Conversation <> .
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