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Parents concerned over children’s excessive screen time

Parents concerned over children’s excessive screen time
December 28, 2015

Worried parents have nominated excessive screen time, obesity, and a lack of physical activity as their three biggest health concerns for Australian children and teenagers.

The Australian Child Health Poll, conducted by Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital, found having an unhealthy diet was also considered by parents as in the top four children's health issues - higher than bullying, drug use, asthma and cancer.

The poll's director, Dr Anthea Rhodes, said the top 10 concerns related to modern lifestyles, rather than traditional issues like allergies and accidents.

Dr Rhodes stated “when we've looked to the public and asked them to tell us what's important, they've very clearly told us, it's those issues relating to lifestyle, child welfare and also mental health that are the big problems in their eyes.

"There's lots of research that tells us about the flow-on effects of obesity in children and the economic effects of that when it persists into adulthood."

Excessive screen time was picked out by 60% of 2,000 respondents, as the number one health issue of concern.

The poll also found that parents were six times more likely to be concerned about obesity in children other than their own.

The survey asked people to rate 29 childhood health issues, including allergies, cancer and asthma.

Dr Rhodes said it was the first time people had been asked about their biggest health concerns for children.

While the excessive use of electronic devices was expected to feature highly, Dr Rhodes said it was surprising to see lifestyle issues top the list.

58% nominated excessive screen time as their biggest health concern for children, ahead of 55% who identified obesity and 54% who identified a lack of physical activity.

Dr Rhodes added “screen time has been linked to a number of health problems in children.

"Research has shown that it is linked to sedentary behaviours which can lead to obesity. There is a lot of interplay with the modern lifestyle of children in our results."

The results of the poll are in contrast to a 2012 report into child health from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which found asthma was the most common chronic condition among children and cancer the leading cause of death.

Dr Rhodes said respondents were asked to rank ‘traditional’ health concerns but they didn't feature as highly in the results.

However, while a majority of people identified childhood obesity as a big health problem just 8% of parents thought it was an issue for their own kids.

The poll results come amid growing concerns about the health risk of excessive screen time for children.

Earlier this year, a study of 9000 secondary school students by the Cancer Council and National Heart Foundation found teenagers were spending more time on phones, computers and tablets.

The report found 77% of students were spending more than two hours a day using electronic media for entertainment, while 24% were achieving the recommended 60 minutes or more of exercise each day.

Top 10 child health concerns:

• Excessive screen time
• Obesity
• Not enough physical activity
• Unhealthy diet
• Bullying
• Illegal drug use
• Family domestic violence
• Internet safety
• Child abuse and neglect
• Suicide

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We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

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