Screens: Recommendations

Écran et recommandations

According to the Canadian Paediatric Society

The latest recommendations regarding screen use now focus on overall habits rather than on screen time specifically. The Canadian Paediatric Society, for example, advises everyone to remember four essential M’s:

  • MANAGE screen use. For ex.:
    • Conduct a self-assessment of habits with regard to screens and develop a family plan to determine when, how and where they can and can’t be used.
    • If possible, be present and participate when your kids use screens and also discuss the subject with them.
  • Encourage MEANINGFUL screen use. For ex.:
    • Prioritise daily routines, such as interacting face-to-face, sleep, and physical activity over screen use.
    • Avoid screens at least one hour before bedtime because of the potential effects on melatonin suppression.
  • MODEL healthy screen use. For ex.:
    • As a parent, review your own media habits, plan time for alternative hobbies, outdoor play and activities.
    • Encourage daily family “screen-free” times, especially for family meals and socializing.
  • MONITOR for signs of problematic screen use at any age. For ex.:
    • Screen use that interferes with sleep, school or face-to-face interactions.
    • Screen time that interferes with offline play, physical activities or socializing face-to-face.
Michelle Ponti, Digital Health Task Force. Digital media: Promoting healthy screen use in school-aged children and adolescents. Paediatrics & Child Health 2019;24(6):402-8. With permission.

According to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth (5-17 years of age), which is somewhat the equivalent of Canada’s Food Guide but for physical activity, have also taken a holistic approach by focusing on all movement-related behaviors observed during a day. The new guidelines:

A healthy 24 hours includes:

  • SWEAT: Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity
    An accumulation of at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity involving a variety of aerobic activities. Vigorous physical activities, and muscle and bone strengthening activities should each be incorporated at least 3 days per week;
  • STEP: Light physical activity
    Several hours of a variety of structured and unstructured light physical activities;
  • SLEEP: Uninterrupted 9 to 11 hours of sleep per night for those aged 5–13 years and 8 to 10 hours per night for those aged 14–17 years, with consistent bed and wake-up times;
  • SIT: Sedentary behaviour
    No more than 2 hours per day of recreational screen time; Limited sitting for extended periods.

Preserving sufficient sleep, trading indoor time for outdoor time, and replacing sedentary behaviours and light physical activity with additional moderate to vigorous physical activity can provide greater health benefits.

In summary

As a parent, it is important to be aware that screen use involves risks and to strive for balance (rather than a certain number of hours), by limiting screen time but also by prioritising quality content at appropriate times and of course by offering more screen-free moments. Better managing screens means doing your best so that the Internet contributes to your child’s development while reducing the possibility of negative effects on their global well-being.