Regardless of the content, too much screen time is not healthy for children. Children who watch more than 1.5 hours of television per day have a greater chance of being overweight, and too much screen time in the early years establishes a negative pattern for life.

Screen time also affects the number of words children know by Grade One – and children understand and use fewer and fewer words for every hour of non-interactive screen time they watch. Parents should swap screen time for physical activity whenever possible. Most children would rather be outside playing than in the house if parents provide plenty of opportunities for them to do so.

The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends:

  • No screen time for children under two
  • Ages 2-6 should have no more than one hour per day of combined TV, computer, mobile devices or video games. Be mindful of what your children watch, and when and how much they watch
  • Know what your child is watching
  • Select videos or programs without commercials
  • Watch with your child as often as possible
  • Talk to your child about what they are watching to determine what they understand
  • Explain to children that advertising is trying to make you like and buy something and what advertisers say might not always be true. 
  • Teach them to be critical of media messages. Children under the age of five have difficulty separating advertising from content, and children under 11 have a hard time understanding the persuasive intent of ads. Children will imitate what they watch if that behaviour is seen to be rewarded – whether it’s desirable or not. Set some simple rules
  • No screens during meals
  • No screen time just before bed and no screens in child’s bedroom
  • Eliminate snacking in front of the TV or other screens
  • Don’t use screens as reward or punishment – it gives them too much importance
  • Unplug & play – create opportunities for you and your child to be active together as well as enjoying more quiet pursuits away from screens: Play games, listen to music, go for walks and explore new places, and nature; arrange playdates with other families
  • Create time at home for your child to interact with you and other family members
  • Have a reading time everyday – regardless of child’s age
Be a role model:

  • Let your child learn from you how to balance activity and screen time.
  • Set limits for both of you – limit the time you spend on the phone, computer, TV and other devices.
  • Reduced screen time leads to: better learning, more physical activity, improved nutrition, healthier weights, and more developed social skills.