Family Screen Time Blog

The internet is full of information, and we are constantly bombarded with social media posts, news articles, and blog entries that make bold claims with significant implications every day. How can we tell which of these claims to believe, and which are more fiction than fact?

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Early childhood is a key developmental stage. As such, it is important to know and understand factors that promote (or harm) normal, healthy development. Although several studies have shown that higher screen time in children is related to poorer developmental outcomes, there is little evidence demonstrating the direction of that relationship. In other words, it is unclear whether: (a) screen time causes developmental delays, (b) developmental delays cause screen time, (c) some other external factor causes both developmental delays and screen time, or (d) all of the above. A recent study found evidence for a directional relationship between screen time and developmental delays. How did the authors come to this conclusion?

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It’s no secret that children learn by example. As the people they likely spend the most time around, children will pick up many important behaviours and habits from parents. When it comes to behaviours like screen use and physical activity, are you modelling healthy behaviours for your child to follow?

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As part of the Canadian Paediatric Society’s recommendations for healthy screen time behaviours in young children (described here), parents are encouraged to think about limiting their child’s use of screens before bedtime, as well as access to screens in the bedroom. Why are these limits a good idea?

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In April 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) released guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age, which provide recommendations for daily time spent in each of these areas.

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In the past few months, popular media outlets such as WebMD and CNN have released articles warning parents that “excessive” use of screens (over 1 hour per day) can lead to slower brain development in preschool-aged children. But, are screens really harming children’s brains?

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The Canadian Paediatric Society has provided thoughtful recommendedations for screen time in families with young children. You can read the full article, which includes a discussion of the research that informed these recommendations.

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