Australian children are spending an average of 2.5 waking hours online each day and nearly half of parents struggle to get the screen-time vs offline balance right.
The Suncorp survey of 1200 Australians found that while purchasing devices, connection costs, buying apps and online subscriptions, quickly adds up, it’s also costing families time with their children.
Suncorp Behavioural Economist, Phil Slade isn’t surprised by the amount of time children are spending online, considering this generation has grown up with the internet and majority of daily activities are done online.
“With young people using the internet to socialise, learn and be entertained, it’s no surprise they spend such a significant amount of time online each day,” Mr Slade said.
The research also found that while older Australians are using their time online for “life admin” - sending emails, banking, paying bills, shopping or reading news, young Australians are spending their time watching streaming services like Netflix or playing games, which can come with unexpected costs.
“Australians of all ages love the convenience of doing things online, which certainly makes life easier. However, playing games, watching television and streaming music can come with extra fees.
“Parents need to be mindful of the costs associated with technology and data usage and budget for it accordingly, like they do utility bills and groceries.” Mr Slade said.
The research also revealed that parents with children (under 18 years) spend an average of $3,000 staying connected each year, $500 more than the average national spend. Phil advises that one way to help kids strike the on-line to off-line balance is by incorporating the two.
“By bringing technology out of the bedroom and into the lounge or kitchen, kids can interact with the chaos and randomness of everyday life while staying connected, giving them further learning opportunities.
“They can leverage technology to foster curiosity and learning, like using YouTube to learn to play the guitar or to find recipes to cook with their families,” said Mr Slade.
It’s also a good idea for parents to set reasonable rules for their kids’ internet activity, teaching them to balance their online fix with offline activities to benefit their overall health and wellbeing.
“Setting expectations around what family time and learning time looks like is important, as is having rules around when and how kids can use their devices to enhance these occasions,” concludes Mr Slade.