Reduce, Replace, Balance (R&B)



Excessive screen time is a significant detriment to children’s health, and has been linked to lower physical activity rates, and higher rates of depression and diabetes, consumption of unhealthy foods, lower cardiovascular fitness, lower academic achievement and reductions in time spent with family (see Research information below).

While the correlation between excessive screen and reduced health is broadly understood in the community, modern families continue to struggle with effectively managing screen time.

The predominant advice provided for parents on screen-time is, at its heart, prohibitionist – ‘just say no to technology”. This approach has not worked and device ownership and screen use rates continue to rise among QLD children.

Modern children have grown up in a technological age and asking them to abstain from using that technology is tantamount to asking them to opt out of the culture they were born into, of which they are a part. This is, we believe, an unrealistic, if not unfair, request.


At Nature Play QLD we believe QLD families will benefit from more balanced advice than the “just say no” norm.

Our approach begins from these core- premises:

  1. Some level of screen time is a given for modern children, and it is not going away
  2. “Just say no to technology” is an ineffective call to action
  3. Screen time is not, in itself, dangerous/negative
  4. The primary dangers of screen time are that it can lead to:
    • excessive sedentary (sitting) time
    • the displacement of positive behaviors/opportunities
  5. Technology can be an ally for health
  6. Parents are looking for practical advice


The advice we propose has three strategies: REDUCE, REPLACE and BALANCE


Work with your kids to reduce screen time (yours and theirs). Even a little bit helps.

  • Set screen rules
  • Designate non-screen time
  • Avoid having screens in bedrooms
  • Parents should model screen discipline


Find technologies that are fun and active to replace sedentary technologies.



  • Nature Passport (mobile app Apple, Android)
  • Pokemon Go (Mobile app: Apple and Android)
  • Geocaching (Mobile app: Apple and Android)


  • Wii fit U (Wii U)
  • Just Dance (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii)
  • Shape up (Xbox One)


Balance sedentary screen time with equal or greater green time (active, and or, imaginative outdoor play).

If your kid loves Minecraft, that’s OK, but the more you let them play computer games, the more time you’ll need to find to balance the ledger with outdoor play.


  • Playing with friends at the park
  • Sports
  • Throwing, or kicking a ball, with a parent
  • Dance
  • Walking the dog


Use this great resource for inspiration!

Research on Screen Time

We've put together a comprehensive list of the research that backs our mission and our work. Read the scientific studies supporting our efforts to get kids outside in child lead play more often...

Optometrists warn myopia a ‘looming epidemic’ for screen-addicted children

Screen Time for Australian Children - By The Numbers

Handheld Screen Time Linked With Speech Delays in Young Children

Excess screen time leads to autism-like traits, including poorer quality friendships and fewer social skills

Lifelong Residential Exposure to Green Space and Attention

Beyond Blue to Green

Physical Activity Report Card

Think outside the Xbox

Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (birth to 5 years)


More Inspiration

Want some more tips on getting the balance of screen time and green time right?  Here's a selection of Nature Play QLD programs and information from our partners, supporters and friends to get you started...


Nature Play QLD Resources:

Green Time vs Screen Time Tool

Nature Playlists

With infants and toddlers

Fun in the sun

Neighbourhood Nature Play


Nature Passport Outdoor App

Nature Passport has a large, and growing, suite of outdoor activities including scavenger hunts, micro-hikes, a mud-pie food fight, cubby building, and bug hunts. Users collect badges, do team activities, and record pictures, notes, and audio from their adventures in a digital journal.

The app also has a safari feature that allows users to record animals and species, have them identified by naturalists, and added to one of the world’s largest citizen science projects (iNaturalist).




Nature Play GROW App 

Designed for parents and carers of children 0 – 3 years old, and early childhood professionals, GROW with Nature Play has age appropriate play lists that can help their child GROW during the important formative years of a child’s life, in their:

  • Development
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Confidence
  • Curiosity
  • and Family Bonds





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