It's asking families to make a 'play pact'

A new campaign is asking parents to limit their children's screen time on devices.

The START campaign - from safefood, the HSE and Healthy Ireland - coincides with the beginning of school term.

It's encouraging parents to put away the screens and pause for play with their children.

It's also asking families to make a 'play pact' by committing to spend less time on their screens.

"This doesn't have to be organised physical activity or sport and all movement counts", the campaign says.

A child plays a game on the smartphone in Germany | Image: Thomas Eisenhuth/DPA/PA Images

Recent research has found that children aged under two spent on average around one hour 15 minutes every day on screens - rising to almost one hour 30 minutes at weekends.

For children aged three to nine, the weekday average was one hour 45 minutes and between 2.5 and three hours at weekends.

For 10 to 12-year-olds, the weekday average was almost two hours rising to more than three hours at the weekends.