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Activity (including screen time)

It is recommended by The World Health Organisation that children aged between 5 and 18 are active for at least and hour a day. You can find out more about this *here*

The number of children achieving 60 minutes a day drops by 40% as they move through primary school.
A 2017 survey from Public Health England (PHE) and Disney looking at the effects of physical activity on 5 -11 years olds emotional wellbeing, found being active made them

• feel happier (79%)
• more confident (72%)
• more sociable (74% of parents reported this

93% of children said they liked being active.They were motivated to be more active by;

• having friends to join in with (53%)
• having a range of activities to choose from (48%)

Children’s diminishing levels of activity corresponds with a reduction in reported ‘overall happiness. Whilst 64% of 5 and 6 year olds said they ‘always feel happy’ only 48% of 11 year olds felt this way.

  • The recommended 60 minutes of physical exercise for children and young people should combine moderate, vigorous and strengthening activities.

    Moderate Intensity would include brisk walking or cycling. Activity that causes you to get warmer, breathe harder, and your heart beat faster. You should still be able to carry on a conversation or sing a song.
    Vigorous Intensity would include running, actively participating in a sport, or cycling up a hill. Causing you to get hotter, sweat and breathe faster. You shoud not be able to maintain a conversation or sing a song.
    Strengthening Activities require more controlled muscle use such as climbing or yoga.

    Establishing an enjoyment of physical activity in children, and young people and helping develop positive habits and routines is important. It increases the likelihood they will continue to be active into adulthood.
    Many families have low activity levels and schools can play a vital role in helping young people -both ‘sporty’ and not - find activity they enjoy and can continue to participate in.

    Regular physical activity has been shown to help prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and diseases. Conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and Heart Disease are increasingly common and affecting people at an earlier age. 1 in 3 of the working age population have at least 1 long term condition and 1 in 7 have more than one.
    Early healthy habits can make all the difference to young people’s long term wellbeing.


  • The use of technology and screen time has brought many positives to modern life – it can seem easier to keep connected with friends and family. Technology means we have a wealth of information at our fingertips - we can be ‘entertained’ 24/7.
    However alongside the benefits there are concerns about how it impacts on the health and wellbeing of us all - with an increase in social pressure and a reduction in activity and face2face interactions.

    It is a particular concern of how the use of screens may affect the health and wellbeing of children and young people now and in the future.

    In 2015 Ofcom found that the time 8-15 year olds spent online doubled between 2005 and 2015.
    Over the same period only a slight increase was shown in TV viewing time

    In addition over a third (37.3 per cent) of UK 15 year olds are ‘extreme internet users’ – using the internet for more than 6 hours a day at weekends.
    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) records statistics for 30 countries in the developed world. Only Chile had a higher number of ‘extreme internet users’ than the UK
    (Social media and children’s mental health a review of the evidence - June 2017)

    So what does this mean for children and young people?

  • • Screen light mimics daytime and supresses the release of melatonin.
    • Screen use in the dark can supress melatonin release for several hours.
    • Stimulating content (e.g. gaming) keeps the brain active and make it difficult to ‘switch off’
    • Babies exposed to screen media in the evening hours showed significantly shorter night-time sleep duration, compared to those with no evening screen exposure.
    • Screen time increases sedentary behaviour which has been shown to impact on sleep quality.

  • ‘Social media and children’s mental health a review of the evidence - June 2017’
    Identified evidence of a beneficial impact on wellbeing, and young people recognise the value of opportunities to connect online. It can increase social connections, and enable young people to develop their identities and creativity.
    However research has also identified a range of risks associated with social media, including:
    ▪ encourages excessive time online
    ▪ sharing too much information
    ▪ being cyber-bullied
    ▪ negative body image
    ▪ sourcing harmful content or advice
    The evidence suggests a ‘dose-response’ relationship, where each additional hour a child views increasing the likelihood of socio-emotional problems and the risk of low self-esteem.

  • • 'Heavy media use during preschool years is associated with small but significant increases in BMI, may explain disparities in obesity risk in minority children, and sets the stage for weight gain later in childhood’ (Media and young minds – 2016)
    • A recent study of 2-year-olds found that BMI increased for every hour per week of media consumed’ (Media and young minds – 2016)
    • These associations are believed to be linked to exposure to advertising and eating whilst watching a screen.
    • Exposure to food advertising has both immediate and longer term impact on children’s health. It encourages greater consumption immediately after watching an advert as well as altering children’s food preferences. Obesity Plan for Action ch2


  • It is difficult for schools to offer advice to guide children and parents on the appropriate level of screen time. There are currently no hard research findings on what is a ‘safe level’ of screen use. However educating and supporting children and families to set realistic limits seems appropriate.
    In January 2019 the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health issued this advice to families based on best evidence;
    ‘Our primary recommendation is that families should negotiate screen time limits with their children based upon the needs of an individual child, the ways in which screens are used and the degree to which use of screens appears to displace (or not) physical and social activities and sleep’

  • Activity

    Participate in a GOV.Uk self-assessment of how healthy your schools is *here*

    Work with your local council to create safe routes to school, where children, young people and their families are able to walk, cycle or skate to school safely.

    Access support from Active Norfolk – for advice and support around the PE and sport premium and on delivering high quality PE and sport. *here*

    Participate in the daily mile scheme *here*

    ActiveKidsDoBetter is free to all schools and includes a welcome pack and digital toolkit to help your class get moving *here*

    Community Sports Foundation offer support for schools – clubs and training *here*

    Change4Life School Zone has lesson plans to get pupils practicing and designing their own ‘10 Minute Shake Ups’ to keep active in school and through the holidays *here*

    Screen time

    The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health offers downloadable guides on screen time *here*

    Many phones will record the amount of screentime being used. There are also Apps available that track technology use. This can help children and young people manage screen use better

    The Children’s Commissioner’s ‘Digital 5 A Day’ helps young people to explore ‘a balanced digital diet and better wellbeing’. You can find out more *here*

    Some families may benefit from signposting to parenting courses for help with implementing boundaries.
    The Solihull Parenting Approach is available free for Norfolk Families via JustOneNorfolk *here*


  • Everybody active every day publication
    Public Health England’s recommendations on increasing levels of activity across British society. Identifies 4 areas for local and national action, based on international evidence of what works and co-produced with over 1,000 local and national stakeholders. Can be found *here*

    Sport England: Strategy Towards an Active Nation 2016-2021
    Find information on the long term plan *here*

Who can help?

For support or advice young people, families and professionals can contact :

Your Local Pharmacist. Find a local one here

Call 111 – they can reassure you and advise if you need more medical help

Just One Number for Norfolk Children and Young People’s Health Services Tel: 0300 300 0123 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Saturday 9am-1pm.

Parents can use Parentline Text messaging service: 07520 631590

Young people aged 11-19 can text Chat Health on 07480635060

Other parents who are going through or have been through this before can be a big help to you, friends or family, or you could join our online forum to speak to Norfolk Parents

CLICK HERE to find out more


Find out about the enhanced School Nurse offer ...(content required?)

And the emotional health pathway *here*

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