How Much Is Too Much Screen Time?

Setting limits for your kids screen time

Setting limits for time in front of the screen
Setting limits for time in front of the screen
 

Children and adolescents of today’s society have technological advances that many of us could never have imagined an even a few years ago. Who could have predicted how handy an iPhone could be to a restless toddler? It is not uncommon to see children as young as one flipping through pictures or watching a video. With technology becoming increasingly more accessible for all ages many are questioning the effect of screen time on children.

The Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) recommends that children and adolescences limit “screen time” (including television, computer, video games, tablets and iPods) to two hours per day. There is a very strong link between increased screen time and decreased physical activity. The Canadian Health Measures Survey studied children and adolescents between 2007-2009 and found that they spent just over eight and half hours a day of sedentary time. It seems to be no coincidence that obesity rates have sky rocketed in the past 25 years, with the CPS reporting that close to 26 percent of Canadians aged 2-17 are considered overweight or obese. 

According to the study, children who accumulate an average of more than the recommended two hours of screen time are twice as likely to be overweight or obese compared to their counterparts who log under one hour a day. While some screen time each day is almost a necessity, especially for adolescents with homework assignments, it is extremely important to have a healthy balance.

  • Encourage physical activity whether it is a trip to the park, a short bike ride or simply increased time spent outdoors.
  • Be a role model by becoming more active yourself, trying walking or bike riding to the store, to school or work. 
  • Incorporate physical activities every day, a simple game of tag, jumping rope or even some intense hide and seek, can make a difference.
  • Encourage children to get involved in sports, whether it is at the competitive level, a school team or house league, finding an activity they enjoy will help ensure they stick with it.
  • Try to do a new activity each week as a family. Try out activities you may have never done before for great family bonding. Canoeing, snow shoeing and beach volleyball are some sure crowd pleasers. 
  • Check out local community centers for special events and activities.
  • Make family activities fun by letting each family member a chance to choose the activity.
  • Use the weather as a resource, not an excuse to stay inside. In the hot summer months go swimming, break out the sprinkler, or even wage a water balloon war. When the cold comes, ice-skating at outdoor rinks, skiing or building snowman and snow forts.

 

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