Technological development marches on, and screens are now a constant presence in our lives. Do you feel unprepared to deal with your children’s screen time demands or behaviour? Do you wonder about the impact that screen use might have on their development? Check out this article for some tips to help you balance screen use at home.
A 2019 study2 showed that people in the 13-to-18 age group spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day on entertainment media. For 8- to 12-year-olds, the average is 4 hours and 45 minutes a day, and for 3- to 4-year-olds, 2 hours a day.
According to a 2023 report by the Institut de la statistique du Québec, 25% of parents surveyed find it difficult not to look at their cell phone when spending time with their children. What’s more, 43% feel they use their cell phone too much when they’re with their children.1
Keep in mind that parents are their children’s role models. Ask yourself about your personal habits: the more you exercise moderation in your own screen use, the better able you’ll be to serve as a role model that will make it easier to manage your children’s screen time later on.
Studies uniformly stress the importance of not exposing children under 2 to screens. The UN suggests less than 1 hour of screen time per day for children under 5. For 6- to 12-year-olds, the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends less than 2 hours of screen time per day. For 13- to 19-year-olds, studies have no specific screen time recommendations, but they do suggest assisting them in assessing their needs based on the type of content, the circumstances, and their ability to manage their screen use properly.
Since exposure to screens before bedtime can interfere with sleep, it’s advisable for everyone to turn off their screens at least an hour before going to bed.
In addition, sleep deprivation due to excessive exposure to screens can accentuate all the above effects.
First, it’s important to establish clear rules on technology use:
Second, it’s a good idea to have some screen-free time. Here are some things you can do:
It’s also helpful to create a less “busy” environment:
Third, it’s advisable to employ some screen time management strategies:
1. Source: Être parent au Québec en 2022, https://statistique.quebec.ca/fr/document/etre-parent-au-quebec-2022 (French only).
2. Source: Screens and population health in Montréal, https://santemontreal.qc.ca/en/public/fh/news/news/screens-and-population-health-in-montreal/.
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