Introduction to Theme 4 - Power off and Play!
Theme 4 is all about helping children and families build a balanced day that is not filled with recreational and sedentary screen time. Less than 25% of children in Canada meet the guidelines for screen time.
Excess screen time can harm children’s early development, physical and psychosocial health:
- Early development: Higher screen time is linked to poor brain development, language development and attention skills in the early years.
- Physical health: Higher screen time is linked to lower levels of physical fitness, higher weight and higher risks of cardio-metabolic disease (e.g. blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin).
- Psychosocial health: Higher screen time is linked to behavioural issues, lower self-esteem and lower psychological well-being.
In terms of meal time, research shows that screen time can interfere with mindful eating. As well, research shows that, during or shortly after being exposed to ads for unhealthy foods, children eat more and prefer less healthy food and beverages. Children who eat away from screens eat more vegetables and fruit and drink fewer sugar-sweetened beverages.
While research on screen time is still emerging, it supports minimizing screen time as part of a balanced day in three key ways. Communities participating in the Healthy Kids Community Challenge are tasked to help children and families to build a balanced day that includes:
- Staying within recommended screen time limits
- Putting screens away during important times of day, including mealtime and bedtime
- Replacing some screen time with other activities
Stay tuned for more information on Power off and Play! projects happening in your community!