Healthy living

Screen time

Screen time is the time spent using electronic media like watching TV or movies, playing on computers, laptops, smart phones or other handheld electronic devices and video game consoles.

These devices are often used while sitting or lying down and contribute heavily to the amount of time people of all ages spend being sedentary.

Recommendations for electronic media use and sedentary behaviour

The Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend limits on sedentary behaviour and screen time for all ages:

Children 0-5 years (external link)

0-2 years:

  • no more than 1 hour at a time being sedentary, restrained or inactive
  • no screen time.

2-5 years:

  • no more than 1 hour at a time being sedentary, restrained or inactive
  • no more than 60 minutes per day of screen time.

Children 5-12 years (external link) and young people 13-17 years (external link):

  • minimise time spent sitting or lying down
  • no more than 2 hours per day of screen time.

Adults 18-64 years (external link):

  • minimise time spent sitting or lying
  • break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.
Tips to limit screen time for children

Regardless of how active children are, it is important to limit their screen time depending on their age. While some activities at school or home require a computer, the key is to limit their time spent in front of a screen for entertainment.

Some tips include:

  • set family rules about screen time. For example, no TV or access to phones during meal times.
  • use an alarm to monitor time spent using electronic media
  • talk to your child about other activities they can do instead of using screens
  • make the bedroom a screen-free zone
  • provide active play equipment, and set time for active play
  • be a positive role model and limit the time you spend using electronic media.
Tips to limit screen time for adults
  • limit non-work screen time
  • keep bedrooms screen-free
  • make mealtimes free of TVs, smart phones and other screens
  • use the time during TV ads to be physically active
  • limit socialising on social media or texting.

Where to get help

  • Speak to your doctor, local community, school or child health nurse.
  • Ring healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222.


  • Negotiate and set family rules around screen use.
  • Be a positive role model for your children.
  • Limit leisure time sedentary activities, like watching TV for entertainment.


Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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