How Screen Time Affects Your Child

Picture of kid watching cartoons

TV, computers and cell phones are a large part of our lives.  However, we know that too much screen time can have a negative effect on families.

To help children develop healthy habits:

  1. Introduce good television and technology habits when children are young.
  2. Limit screen time.  The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that children under the age of two should not have any screen time whatsoever.  For older children, limit daily screen time to no more than two hours per day.
  3. Set a good example by limiting your own screen time.
  4. Be with your children when they watch TV or use the computer to make sure that the content is age appropriate.  Use parental controls to block websites, enforce time limits and monitor your child’s online use.
  5. Have technology-free time to do family activities like reading, physical activity and playing.
  6. Turn TV and devices off during play and meal time.  Eating together as a family is an important time for children to learn social skills, and it encourages language development and strengthens family bonds.
  7. Keep televisions and gaming out of children’s bedrooms.  Children need lots of sleep which they won’t get if they are tempted to watch TV or play games.
  8. Television is a powerful tool for selling toys and junk food.  Explain to children that commercials are designed to make people want things they don’t necessarily need.  To limit exposure to advertising have kids watch public television stations, record programs without the commercials or watch children’s DVDs.

When you choose to spend time with your child you show them attention, encourage them to explore their environment, and help them learn important life skills.  Spending more time together as a family and less time on the screen will give children a better start in life.

For more information about raising healthy children, please contact the Chatham-Kent Health Unit at 519-352-7270.

For more information on screen time:
Caring for Kids
Canadian Pediatric Society – Screen Time Position Paper
Screen Time: A clinician’s guide to counselling parents of young children

Last updated June 2018