Nowadays, even our children have tablets and smart phones, and they spend more and more time looking down at them. Spending too much time in front of a screen isn’t just a concern for adults with desk jobs. Sedentary screen time impacts children too.
The amount of time you can spend in front of a screen each day before it has a negative impact on your health isn’t much. According to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, children aged five to 11 should spend less than two hours in front of a screen per day. For those aged two to four, it’s less than an hour. For young babies and toddlers it’s even less: the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology says they shouldn’t be getting any screen time at all.1
As you get older, two of the physical consequences of too much screen time are weight gain2,3 and aches and pains.4 However, the developmental consequences for children are a different story altogether: decreased cognitive and language development, reduced academic success, and even short-term memory and social skills are negatively impacted.5
One organization, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, came up with an initiative to raise awareness of children’s screen time and established the international Screen-Free Week.6 Screen-Free Week asks families, schools, and communities around the world to swap screen-based entertainment for both physical activities and screen-free projects like reading a book, writing, and creating art.6
So this week, hop on a bike, pick up a book, or take a walk to your local park with your children, students, or a community group. For child-friendly activity tips, check out our blogs on 8 Ways to Get Children Up and Moving and Keeping Our Youth Heart-Healthy through Movement. For extra motivation to get yourself up and moving, take a look at our 9 Tips to “Sneak It In” This Week.
For recommendations on what activities are right for you, you can ask your family chiropractor.
- Preschooler focus: Physical activity and screen time. Child Health & Exercise Program. McMaster University. 2012; 5: 1-2. https://fhs.mcmaster.ca/chemp/documents/PreschoolerFocusIssue5ScreenTime-updatedSECURED.pdf. Accessed April 27, 2017.
- Mark AE, Janssen I. Relationship between screen time and metabolic syndrome in adolescents. J Public Health (Oxf). 2008; 30(2): 153-60. doi: 1093/pubmed/fdn022.
- Banks E, Jorm L, Rogers K, Clements M, Bauman A. Screen-time, obesity, ageing and disability: findings from 91 266 participants in the 45 and Up Study. Public Health Nutrition. 2010; 14(1):34-43. doi: 1017/s1368980010000674.
- Kim H-J, Kim J-S. The relationship between smartphone use and subjective musculoskeletal symptoms and university students. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015; 27(3): 575-9. doi: 1589/jpts.27.575.
- Duch H, Fisher EM, Ensari I, Harrington A. Screen time use in children under 3 years old: A systematic review of correlates. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2013; 10: 102. doi: 1186/1479-5868-10-102.
- Screen-Free Week! Web site. http://www.screenfree.org/basics/ Accessed April 27, 2017.