Information for Parents

Screen Time

Screen-Time: How to Manage it.

Advice for parents and students.

Tania Lineham

HOD Science

James Hargest College

Screens are everywhere in everyday life including in the classroom and at work.  How can people manage the amount of time they are exposed to screens? How can children learn to manage their screen-time?

What do we know?

What is screen-time?  It is the time spent watching TV and movies, playing video games, and, using computers, tablets and smart phones.

In the USA on average children are exposed to 7 hours of screen time every day.

Age Group


Average Number of Hours of Screen Time per Day









In the UK children aged 5-16 spend on average 6½ hours a day in front of a screen.  The data below show screen-time usage at home (not including school usage).

Age Group


Average Number of Hours of Screen Time at Home per Day










New Zealand is following these national trends.  A survey of approximately 6000 primary and secondary students was recently (2016) carried out by the University of Auckland’s Department of Statistics.  The survey found most have little supervision and few time limits imposed on their screen time at home.


Why is the amount of screen-time children are exposed to increasing?

Some reasons suggested:

  • parents believe that devices help improve learning, they mean to help their children
  • access to screen time gets easier and more affordable every year
  • parents are often time-poor and kids on screens gives parents the opportunity to get things done or give parents a break
  • it is often an easy and convenient option
  • many children have a TV in their bedroom.


What are the possible effects of too much screen-time?

Possible effects include:

  • irregular sleep schedules; children may have difficulty getting to sleep and sleep for shorter periods of time
  • less physical activity, which can lead to an increase in weight and obesity
  • behavioural problems such as:
    • more aggressive behaviour
    • more violent behaviour
  • loss of social skills
    • lack of empathy
    • lowered ability to evaluate other people’s emotions
  • spend less time playing
  • spend less time reading
  • slower cognitive development
  • the device with the screen is often presenting information in a passive way so it is doing the thinking, not your child
    • language delay
    • smaller vocabulary
    • tend to get lower grades
  • more likely to have health problems
  • more likely to have behavioural problems
  • more likely to develop addictive behaviours
    • more likely to drink alcohol
    • more likely to take drugs


When children spend less time playing, they are slower to develop social, cognitive, emotional, physical and moral skills that allow healthy interactions with other people, they find it harder to make and keep friends.

Children can become addicted to screen time, they derive pleasure from it.  The chemical dopamine is released in their brains, if a child gets too used to the immediate response and gratification they get from a device like a tablet or smart phone they will struggle with real world connections which are not naturally immediately gratifying.


What can whanau, parents and care-givers do to help children make better decisions about screen time?

As the adults in the situation, parents and care-givers need to make the rules and make sure they are consistently followed.   Explain the expectations and role model them to your children.

Ministry of Health advice suggests 5 to 18 year olds spend less than 2 hours per day outside school in front of a TV, computer or game console.  Other international organisations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Mayo Clinic give more detailed advice.

For 0-18 month olds there should be no screen time.  For 18-24 month olds there should be no screen time on their own.  2-5 year olds should be limited to 1 hour high quality screen time with a parent or care-giver who can help the child understand what they are seeing and help them apply it to real world situations.  After 5 years, it is recognised that there is no one size fits all, but is recommended that screen time does not take the place of sufficient sleep (8-12 hours) or physical activity (1 hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity) every day.

Common consensus points to the importance of playtime; reading and talking with children of all ages.

For younger children, unstructured play with whanau, parents or older children gets them moving and doing things.  It also helps children to think abstractly, challenge themselves and learn to problem solve.  They develop their own personalised learning opportunities.  Playing and interacting with others also teaches children to consider other people’s perspectives and offers opportunities to develop physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual skills in a context that they understand.  Reading to or with children helps them develop language skills and learn new words.

Play with your children, read with them, eat with them, talk with them.  Ask them about their day.  Check they have done their homework.  Have a list of household jobs that get done before children are allowed screen-time.

If your child is watching TV, if possible, pre-record the show, watch it with them so you can fast forward through the ads.  Ask your child questions about the show, make it interactive rather than passive.  Try to have an hour free from screen time before bedtime.  Record your own shows and watch them when the children have gone to bed.

Make sure there are no screen’s in your child’s bedroom.

Know your child’s friends and what your child does with them.  Know who your child interacts with online, and what your child does with them.

Know what your child does online, the quality of media your child is exposed to is more important than the platform (Apple or Android) or the amount of time they spend online. 


In conclusion

Children are still doing all the things that children have always done, the difference today is that more often they are doing things in the virtual world.  It is up to whanau,  parents and care-givers to set the rules, the same rules that apply whether they are in the real world or the virtual world. 



American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016).  Policy statement prepared for Council on Communications and Media. Media and Young Minds. Accessed 22/04/2017.

CensusAtSchool.  (2017). Press Release.  Most kids have no screen time limits.  Accessed 23/04/2017.

Computerworld New Zealand. (2017).  Prepared by Corner, S. NZ children’s screen time unsupervised and unlimited.

Margalit, L. (2016). What screen time can really do to kid’s brains: Too much at the worst possible age can have lifetime consequences. Accessed 22/04/2017.  

Mayo Clinic Staff.  (2016). Screen time and children – How to guide your child. Accessed 22/04/2017. 

National Center for Health Research.  (2015). Prepared by Ravichandran, P; France de Bravo, B; Beauport, R.      Young children and screen time (TV, computers,etc.).  Accessed 22/04/2017. 

Sigman, A. (2015). We need to talk. Screen time in New Zealand. Accessed 23/4/2017.  

Summers, J.  (2014). Kids and screen time: What does the research say? Accessed 22/04/2017.

Download this article here



Information for parents

Technology is advancing very quickly in this digital rich world. It can be difficult to know what we should be teaching our children to keep them safe in online environments.

The following links are from a website provided by the NSW Department of Education. 

Ten cybersafety tips every parent should know

Keeping kids safe online

Raising good digital citizens

Sexting - what parents need to know

Cyberbullying prevention – tips for parents

Should kids have computers in their bedrooms?

Choosing a mobile phone

Keeping kids' phone and data bills under control


Vodafone New Zealand have created this site for parents to get advice on how to help their child manage in a digital world.


Media Smarts - Canada's Centre for Digital and Media Literacy have created excellent tip sheets for 11-13 year olds and 14-17 year olds


If you have any concerns about the cybersafety of your child at James Hargest College, please contact the school.

Suggestions from Parents

Now that Year 7 and 8 students have devices at school, we thought it would be a good idea to share some parent feedback on how they have managed devices in the home.


"We have a device garage in the lounge where our daughters keep their phones overnight"

We do this to make sure they are not distracted by their devices and get a good night sleep


"Our children text us their new passcodes when they change them"

This way we know the password in case they forget it and we can also access the information on their device if we need to. We have let our children know that we will only look in their phone if we have serious concerns about their own - or someone elses- safety.


"I have learnt to play Minecraft so that I can understand and be aware of what the game offers"

This way I will be involved in the YouTube vlogs and chats that are part of the game.


"Our children are only allowed to use their devices in a public place at home"

This gives us an awareness of what they are using their devices for.


"Every week I make a point of sitting down and asking my child to show me what they have been learning about at school. I love being able to look at the photos and feedback on Google Classroom"


"One of the expectations before my daughter signed up for Facebook was that she friended me so I could see what she was posting. It does mean that I have to ensure my posts are appropriate so I am modelling good social media behaviour!"


Apps required at the Junior Campus

All the teachers at the Junior Campus will be using Google apps. The school has also bought a subscription to Sunshine Online (reading) and Mathletics. These are the apps that your child will need to download on their tablet. Students with laptops access these through their browser e.g Chrome or Firefox.


Google Drive


Google Mail


Google Classroom


Google Sheets


Google Docs


Google Slides


Sunshine Online


Mathletics student


12 August 2016

Please note Mathletics have updated their apps for tablets. Please delete the app you are using now and install the new one from the App store or Google Play store.



Which Device?

As a school, we are comfortable for students to bring their preferred device to school. We will not be advocating one device over the other. This year students have used a range of devices including iPads, Laptops, chrome books and tablets. As a primary device we recommend the following minimum specifications:

  • Minimum screen size of 7 inches (minimum usable resolution of 1024 x 600) 
  • Running iOS9.0+, or Android 5.0+, or Windows 8.1/10
  • Battery life of 5-6 hours
  • Wireless Capability
  • Minimum storage for tablets of 32GB (due to the increasing size of apps)
  • Google Chrome installed (Google Cloud Print is used for printing from student devices)
  • Protective case is strongly recommended
  • Bluetooth keyboard or keyboard/tablet case combination is recommended

Please be aware that these minimum specs could change during the year as the apps we use are updated (for example Mathletics minimum specs were updated in May 2016).

We recommend buying a device that is or can be updated to the latest operating system as this will give the device a longer life.

Updated February 2017

The following information is published with permission from the magazine, Interface. We have a subscription to Interface with copies being available at both campuses for teachers and at both libraries for students. Much of the content is online at 

Search for  ‘BYOD’ on the Interface website to find out about other schools and BYOD. 

(article published 2015)

Blocking Unwanted Text and Facebook Messages

If you are recieving unwanted txt messages then this link might help you resolve the problem

Go to Website help for blocking sender

If your are having facebook issues with someone

Blocking someone on facebbok