Study: a third of after-school hours spent on screens

A study of New Zealand 12-year-olds found that daily screentime exceeded the recommended limit of two hours

A child wearing headphones sits in front of a keyboard and computer screens.

New research published in the New Zealand Medical Journal has highlighted that 12-year-olds are spending an average of 23 minutes per hour on screens after school.

The study also found that after 8pm, children spent more than half of their time on screens.

The research was conducted by 108 children wearing cameras that captured images every seven seconds.

Dr Moira Smith, from the University of Otago, Wellington, shared that high levels of screen use is potentially harmful for the health and wellbeing of children.

“It is associated with obesity, poor mental wellbeing, poor sleep and mental functioning and lack of physical activity,” Smith said.

“It also affects children’s ability to concentrate and regulate their behaviour and emotions,” she added.

The data that the study is based on was captured in 2014 and 2015 – with Smith highlighting that screen use is likely to have increased since the results were captured following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Children in 2023 are frequently spending time online, particularly on smartphones,” she said.

YouTube and Netflix are the most popular platforms for watching programmes among young people, while one in three children under the age of 14 use social media. TikTok is the most common form of social media used by children in this age group.