TABLETS AND SMARTPHONES AND TVS; OH MY!
It can be tempting to keep kids entertained with electronics, especially when they are home
from school for the summer. Many parents find media devices very useful when dealing with
behavioural challenges in public settings or when they simply need a bit of quiet time. There
are a many educational games and shows available these days, ranging from basic
dexterity and recognition skills for toddlers to complex problem-solving programs for older
children. While technology is inevitably a large part of our modern world, the increase in
screen usage over the last couple decades has been associated with an increase in
childhood obesity, behavioural problems, reduced creative play, and a significant
change in social skills among today’s youth. Since technology is an important and often
very useful tool, learning about the appropriate usage for children and setting limits may be
the best way to ensure healthy physical, mental, and social development.
Here are the Canadian screentime usage guidelines:
Under 2 years old – zero screen time
2-5 years old – no more than 1 hour daily, with an emphasis on high-quality
6 years and up – maximum of 2 hours daily
These differ from the new US guidelines, which allow for video-chatting under 18 months
and high-quality programming from 18-24 months when viewed with parents.
Considering that screens are everywhere you go these days; the usage guidelines may be
unrealistic for most families to follow. Here are some general recommendations for putting
these guidelines into practice:
Set limits and model good media device usage from infancy. Children learn from
what they observe around them.
Watch programming with children (especially those under 5) to monitor what
they are viewing, discuss what is happening, and make it a social event (by doing
Have media-free times (such as dinner or in the car) and media-free
zones (including bedrooms, mainly for monitoring and to prevent it from
Encourage other activities first, such as creative play with toys or outdoor fun.
Play music instead of movies/shows for enjoyment.
As with most good things in life, moderation is key. If screens are a common part of your
family’s daily routine, consider helping your children engage in other activities throughout
the summer and make media usage a social activity as a family. Even a reduction in the
amount of time spent using devices goes a long a way to improving mental and physical