'Boundaries' needed around screen time which is cutting into children's sleep time, public health expert warns parents

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The Government has released new guidelines for the level of exercise and sleep young Kiwis should be getting, and it shows parents need to start setting "boundaries" around children's screen time, according to a public health expert.

Jack Tame and Professor Grant Schofield discuss the Government’s latest guidelines for the amount of exercise and sleep young Kiwis should be getting.
Source: Breakfast

It's been about 10 years since the last set of guidelines were released by the Government, Professor of public health, Grant Schofield told TVNZ1's Breakfast today.

This is the first time sleep has been included in the guidelines, which suggest children aged between five and 13 should have between nine and 11 hours of quality, unbroken sleep each night.

The  guidelines recommend teenagers aged between 14 to 17-year-olds should be getting eight to 10 hours of sleep each night.

The guidelines also recommend out of school screen time for young people should be limited to two hours per day.

Professor Schofield says "quality and quantity" of sleep are down among Kiwi kids who's time in front of the screen eats into their sleep

In 2012 kids were averaging an hour and a half of out of-school screen time per day, then in 2016 the average time shot up to just over two and a half hours per day, he said. 

With increased screen time the part of their day that's seeing the affects isn't the level of activeness but rather sleep time.

Another surprising thing was that parents aren't setting boundaries, said Professor Schofield.

"Six out of 10 primary school kids have no limits around device use, and eight out of 10 secondary school kids have no rules whatsoever.

"Honestly, modern parenting is going to require some boundaries around this," he said.

The guidelines also includes a suggestion of one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise everyday, which primary school kids are getting said Professor Schofield.

The most active demographic is a six-year-old boy in regional New Zealand, and activeness decreases slightly as kids get older, he said.

Generally speaking most Kiwi kids are getting sufficient exercise, but "we can always do better".

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