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Turn Off, Switch to Play
The aim of the campaign was to get children to:
Current recommendations for children:
- Turn Off = reduce sedentary behaviour and turn off screen based activities, including watching TV, DVDs and playing electronic games, and
- Switch to Play = get active!
- Decrease screen time for children:
- No more than two hours per day of screen time for children aged 5-12 years
- No screen time for children under two years of age.
- Increase physical activity in children:
- 5-12 year olds need at least 60 minutes (and up to several hours) of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day
- Toddlers need at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity and at least 60 minutes of unstructured activity (and up to several hours)
- Preschool children need at least 60 minutes of structured physical activity and at least 60 minutes of unstructured activity (and up to several hours).
Many people and organisations can get involved in this campaign. Here are a few ideas to support this healthy message.
Families can promote this message at home by:
Early childhood services
- Setting house rules around the amount of time children spend on screen based activities
- Restricting TV viewing to no more than two hours a day
- Turning off the TV whilst having meals
- Not allowing TVs in children’s bedrooms
- Being a good role model by limiting your screen time
- Providing other active recreation options, for example equipment, adequate safe space or a list of possible activities for children to do.
- Limit screen time for older children, and only watch shows that are educational and that promote co-operation, imaginative play, respect for others, and show a diversity of gender roles and cultural diversity. Setting a definite time limit to screen watching might mean half an hour or less per day - for example the length of Playschool or the Wiggles.
- Use television, music or the radio for a particular part of the program rather than have it on all day in the background.
- Staff and carers can build up their repertoire of ways to interact, encourage and stimulate young children rather than putting them in front of the television, a video or DVD. If children need to be calmed down, try some relaxation activities such as yoga, reading a story or playing a quiet game, or be outside playing active games.
Community health professionals can help schools and early childhood services to earn the ‘Turn off, Switch to play’ icon of the Award Program.
- Develop a playbook
Similar to a cookbook, have children design a playbook featuring interesting and fun ideas relating to physical activity.
- Pledge Day
Schools or classes “pledge” they will not watch TV for a day/week. Have the children sign a form pledging their intention and have it co-signed by a parent.
- Turn Off, Switch to Activity Curriculum
This is a comprehensive curriculum resource for years 5 and 6 to reduce inactivity in children, produced and researched by Deakin University. The resource helps develop students’ decision-making skills to reduce screen time and increase physical activity. It includes six lessons of approximately 30–40 minutes. Download the Switch to Activity document below.
Parent tip sheets
- Background paper - Kids-‘Go for your life’ proposed that all children aged 0-12 years need to 'Turn OFF, switch to play' and therefore engage less in sedentary behaviour. Children need to be more physically active and occupied in more active play. Download: Background paper (69kb, pdf)
- Healthy eating and play for toddlers (1-2 years) - For toddlers, the world is a fun and exciting place, as they begin to explore life independently. This is the time to encourage your child to enjoy family meals, try a wide variety of foods and tastes, as well as take part in daily play activities. Download: Healthy eating and play for toddlers (84kb, pdf)
- Healthy eating and play for kindergarten children (3-5 years) - Children’s habits are not only influenced by family life, but also by other children and messages from television. Children can learn to make healthy food, activity and lifestyle choices if given help from families and carers. Download: Healthy eating and play for kindergarten children (120kb, pdf)
Translated Turn Off, Switch to Play message sheets
- Healthy eating and activity in the primary school years (5-12 years) - Primary school age is the time children start enjoying busy social lives, have pocket money and begin to develop their own interests and lifestyle. Children of this age learn quickly and are influenced by friends and popular trends. This is the perfect time to learn about the importance of healthy food and activity. Download: Healthy eating and activity in the primary school years (97kb, pdf)
Visit the Filling the Gaps page for message strips translated into six different languages; Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Dinka, Somali, Vietnamese.
For schools, early childhood services and communities
- ‘Switch-2-Activity’ is a program to reduce inactivity in Grade 5 & 6 children as part of the Kids – ‘Go for your life’ initiative. Download the Turn off, Switch to activity curriculum: