Traditional health concerns for children have dropped to the bottom of the concern list for parents with modifiable lifestyle factors including poor diet, lack of activity and screen time proving to be what worries parents most.
More than 90 per cent of parents reported that excessive screen time was a problem and ranked as the number one health concern across the board according to the latest results from The Royal Children’s Hospital National Child Health Poll, released today.
The poll of 1980 parents of children aged one month to less than 18 years found:
- The number one health concern for parents in 2021 is excessive screen time with 57% of parents reporting it as a big problem in the community.
- Cyberbullying and bullying (53%) was the second top health concern parents have for all children, followed by internet safety (52%) with parents reporting these were big problems.
- Lifestyle issues such as unhealthy diets (41%) and lack of physical activity (38%) are listed in the top health problems identified by parents.
- Mental health was a notable concern, with approximately 38% identifying depression or suicide as big problem for children in the community, with anxiety also listed as a common problem.
- One in 10 parents report stress and sleep are big problems for their own children.
Dr Margie Danchin, Paediatrician and Acting Poll Director, said the latest results are similar to those from a survey conducted five years ago, and show that too much screen time is a persistent problem.
“Our lives are saturated by digital screens, and it can be difficult to reduce screen time for children when so much of their education and recreation activities are on these devices, particularly in the year 2020 with home learning the norm. However, if we continue to encourage physical activity and time outdoors, we can reduce screen time and address some of the other concerns of parents, such as lack of physical activity and obesity.”
Tips for parents
- Encouraging time outdoors, physical activity and participation in sport, will help to get kids moving, enjoying time with friends and family and away from screens.
- Walking to the shops or school, instead of driving, can be simple ways to help your child be more active each day.
- Parents can take a proactive approach and model health eating habits for their children. These habits develop in the early years and can stay with children for life.
- Developing strong and positive relationships with our children can help to build resilience and foster open conversations. Remember to check in regularly with your child to see how they are doing.