“But Mum, it’s educational! I just need a few more minutes.”  If you’re like me you’ve heard this from your kids when you ask them to get off screens.  And they are partly correct with games such as Minecraft.  But as we approach school holidays (and even during the week), most of us parents can’t help but relate video games with excessive screen time.

And so the technology battlefield that every modern parent faces.  We want our kids to be technologically savvy citizens, but also worry about their distracted learning, social skills and mental health.

The Research

A recent UNSW study proposes that the answer lies in the ‘ideal’ amount of screen time for our kids per day: 1 – 2 hours of screen time for 11-17 year old students helped them achieve a higher reading score but not more than four hours.  The study surprisingly suggests that a couple of hours each night is actually better than none at all.

Spending more than four hours on a school night gaming or trawling the internet meant students were 15 per cent less likely to attain a higher reading score and 17 per cent less likely to obtain a high numeracy score, the UNSW study found.

Although a helpful guide, parents are still left wondering: is 2 hours of Minecraft better than 2 hours of predatory Instagram ads or Tik Tok?  Where does age and personality fit in?  And what happens when students start using a school laptop?

Consider a screen time budget

There is no magic number for the amount of screen time and the figures will be different for each person and each family.  Our article How do you ensure literacy isn’t compromised by screen time was useful for our readers to determine the ‘digital dependence’ of children, along with suggested times.  Ask your family members to consider their screen time, according to the following:
                 School Hwk        School (extra)      Social Media     Gaming     Viewing/Netflix    Total Hrs








By filling in the categories, it makes your kids’ screen time visual and gives them ownership of those screen hours.  You may find this technique effective in the battle around screen time.

Try these ideas:

1.  Joint discussion around screen time

With most issues, giving your kids a say can bring better results rather than enforcing restrictions.  Decide what is fair.  Jot down the times they feel that they need screen time and compromise.  

2.  Check in

There are apps that help to keep track of screen time or you can use the settings menu on phones to check screen time. Yes there will be blowouts but look at adjusting it the following week until the weekly goal is achieved.  Self-regulating is the key here, especially with older kids.

3.  Dad and Mum too!

I am guilty of this – scrolling mindlessly and being surprised at wasted time!  My kids have pointed out that I need to put down my phone and it shows that we can all be lured into screen time.  If everyone is accountable it shows your kids that it’s a family effort.  


We hope that you find this helpful and strategic in monitoring screen time, rather than leaving kids to their own devices – literally!

Looking for a program to engage and further improve your learners’ literacy levels?

Literacy for Boys and Literacy for Kids have been adopted in over 50 schools around Australia, NZ, and the Asia Pacific.  Contact us for a FREE trial in your school.  See for yourself how our engaging programs are boosting literacy levels in the next generation!

Check out our blogs for more ideas and tips.

Super skills of Reading: How to help your child become a better reader

Steps to Successfully Support Disengaged Learners

See us featured in The Educator Australia magazine

Research confirms that early reading boosts literacy

Boys Love LFB – Here’s what they have to say!

Help! My son hates reading.

Get boys reading in the digital age

Why write? Tips for reluctant writers

Best Boy’s Books from 2017

Brought to you by Tanya Grambower

Literacy For Boys Reading in Action