Using the data from the 2015 AIFS study, we calculated the average amount of screen time for television and computer/gaming console use for children aged 4 to 13 by adding weekday and weekend usage to get a total number of annual hours for screen time.
To calculate the cost of television use, we determined the hourly cost of the device by using a hypothetical 400-watt television and multiplied by 27.72 cents per kilowatt-hour (c/kWh), the average price of electricity in Australia for 2020-2021.2 Then we multiplied this hourly cost by the total annual average hourly figure of 700.09 hours based on the AIFS study.3 For this calculation, we arrived at a total average cost of $77.64 a year for television use alone.
The AIFS study combined the time spent on computer and gaming console use into the one figure. We applied the 27.72c/kWh cost to a 300-watt computer, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, and then averaged these costs together to arrive at a single figure for console gaming and computer use. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X also had the use of a 400-watt television factored in, as this is required to use the console. The total annual average number of hours spent gaming on consoles or using a computer was 281.89. The hourly cost was calculated by working out the cost of each device using the same method used for TV, and then averaging these different costs for consoles and computer use. This average hourly cost of gaming (accounting for computers and different consoles) was then calculated using the same method to arrive at an average cost of $37.77 a year.
The total average cost of screen time per year combined television use with computer/console gaming use to reach a total of $115.41 spent per year on energy to power a child’s screen time.
To calculate the recommended screen time use, we combined the hourly cost of a television, computer, Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 to arrive at an average cost for all devices, based on the average electricity cost used earlier. Using an estimate of 2 hours per day and 365 days per year, we arrived at an average cost for recommended screen time of $93.59 per year.