Physical activity and screen time in outside school hours care services across Australia: current versus best practice

Rosa Virgara, Anna Phillips, Lucy K. Lewis, Mandy Richardson, Carol A. Maher

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Abstract

Background: Outside school hours care (OSHC) is accessed by millions of children internationally. Recently, physical activity and screen time guidelines in OSHC were developed. This study described the current physical activity and screen time scheduling in Australian OSHC, obtained sector feedback on the guidelines and compared current- with best-practice. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was administered to n = 3551 Australian OSHC directors. Participants reported scheduling for physical activity and screen time opportunities in before- and after-school care. Feedback was sought on the new guidelines, including barriers and enablers for implementation. Scheduling data were used to evaluate whether services were currently meeting the new guidelines; that is if time allocated matched with time recommended. Results: Five hundred and sixty-six directors participated (response rate 16%). Physical activity and screen time practices varied widely (e.g., after-school physical activity opportunity ranged from 15 to 150 min, mean 74, SD 28; after-school screen time opportunity ranged from 15 to 195 min, mean 89, SD 43), with state (p = 0.002) and socioeconomic (based on postcode; p < 0.001) differences. Most participants (54–81%) agreed that the guideline’s recommended physical activity and screen time durations were appropriate, however, only 40% of participants’ OSHC services’ programs actually met the guidelines. Conclusions: Physical activity and screen time scheduling in OSHC is highly variable. Despite support for the guidelines, current scheduling practice in the majority of OSHC services surveyed do not meet best practice guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number680
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Best practice
  • Guidelines
  • Outside school hours care
  • Physical activity
  • Screen time

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