by Gillian Jarvis

Digital device use and healthy development

Get together with any group of parents today and they will share one thing in common…the challenge of managing digital devices.

More than 90 per cent of parents reported that excessive screen time was a problem and ranked it as the number one health concern across the board according to recent results from the Royal Children’s Hospital National Health Poll. What does this mean?

You are not alone, you are not a bad parent, this is a real challenge. Below is practical information from lived experience.

In today’s tech-saturated world, digital devices are an integral part of our lives, offering unprecedented access to information and means of communication.

However, for developing children, especially young boys, the overuse of these devices can pose significant risks to their physical, social, and mental development. Most of us intuitively know this but are often unsure of what to do.

Creating a Balanced Approach

My mantra for many years as a parent is “to start as you mean to go on”. In this context this translates to setting age-appropriate limits of digital devices both of time and content and sticking to them.

Your child’s brain is rapidly growing neural pathways and a dependency for screen-based activity happens very quickly if not kept in check.

Australian national Guidelines for children screen time:

  • no screen time for children younger than two years
  • no more than one hour per day for children aged 2–5 years.
  • no more than two hours of sedentary recreational screen time per day for children and young people aged 5–17 years (not including schoolwork).

Where do I start?

The first step is to get an idea of what recreational digital device consumption your family has and whether this is something that you think is balanced.

Use this week to jot it down like a food diary…to get a real sense of the time and a more objective view. You can do this by looking at the screen time sections of the device that record usage.

Next week we will look at some ideas on how to get a better balance.


You are not alone, you are not a bad parent, this is a real challenge.

Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School

Gillian Jarvis is an experienced Paediatric Occupational Therapist (OT) who has been working with families for many years. As well as more traditional OT, she specialises in digital wellbeing, child development and mental health. You can find her at: This article is about


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    Digital device use and healthy development – part two

    By Gillian Jarvis