Screen time and young children: Health and development in a digital world

SCREEN TIME AND YOUNG CHILDREN

The issue of kids and screen media was in the news this week with the release of a position statement by the Canadian Paediatric Society (an organization dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of youth and children), specifically dealing with kids five years of age and younger.

Some key trends highlighted in the document: children 3 to 5 years old spend an average of 2 hours per day in front of screens, with the rates of mobile media use among kids younger than five dramatically increasing.

TV still dominates total screen time. Minimizing screen time (1 hour per day recommended) allows for more face-to-face interactions, which is how young children learn best. Screen time for children under 2 is not recommended.

Parents should participate and be engaged when the kids are using digital media, rather than leaving them on their own. Prioritize educational and age-appropriate content. Remember to turn off background TV when possible.

Maintain daily periods where there is no exposure to screens – especially for book-sharing and family meals, and avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime.

One item that stood out – the potential benefits for physical health. Screen time shouldn’t be passive. Especially after age 3, children respond to activity-based programming when it is fun, designed for them, encouraging participation.

The statement is here:

http://www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/screen-time-and-young-children

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