Our Kids Need To Log Off And Get Moving
Do your kids come home from school, drop their backpacks, and hit the sofa for hours of TV, computer, or video games? Do they spend weekends messaging friends or updating their social media platforms?
Shockingly, Canadian kids log an average of just under eight hours of screen time each day – more time each week than their parents spend at work says ParticipACTION, the national voice of physical activity and sport participation. Further, the organization confirms that only 5% of our children are active enough to meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, which recommend at least an hour of heart-pumping exercise or active play every day. You may think your kids are active enough, but the odds are stacked against it.
Excess screen time has been linked to obesity, declining physical, mental and emotional health, poor academic performance, behavioural issues, and less time for play. Can you imagine the boost to our children’s health if we substitute just an hour of screen time for active play every day?
Excess screen time has been linked to obesity, declining physical, mental and emotional health, poor academic performance, behavioural issues, and less time for play.
Encourage your kids to log off, head outdoors, and to enjoy more active play. Better yet, be an active role model and join them! These tips can help:
- Help your kids understand the value of active play: exercise, a connection with nature, time with friends, feeling happier, increased energy, and an opportunity to try new activities;
- Be a role model and limit your own screen time. Log off and give your kids your undivided attention;
- Encourage a balance between homework and active time throughout the school year – even kids in high school need time to play;
- Encourage your kids to invite friends over after school and on weekends for active outdoor play;
- Remove TVs and computers from your child’s room – and have them power down all devices an hour or two before bed;
- Watching TV? Be active at commercial breaks;
- Let babysitters and teachers know you strive for a balance between screen time and active time and encourage them to do the same;
- Advocate for more active breaks at school – some schools are allowing children to stand at their desks and are building physical activity into curriculum strands. The more our kids move, the better!
We struggle with screen time at our house too. Both my daughters (ages 13 and 16) have a tendency to turn to their devices the instant they find themselves with free time on their hands. Role modelling, stressing the importance of finding balance in life, helping my kids discover and pursue a variety of active interests, encouraging them to be their own transportation, and encouraging them to get together with friends, have all helped replace screen time with active time.
Is too much screen time a concern at your house?
How have you helped counter it?
Let us know your tips @DrDinaKulik and @Cate_Cameron.
Catherine Cameron, author on DrDina, is Founder & Principal at CAMERON Communications and works with some of Canada’s leading physical activity, sport, and health and wellness businesses and brands. She is also a sought-after Canadian lifestyle writer, a fitness instructor, and the proud mum of two.