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Canada’s screen time guide stresses quality instead of quantity

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The Canadian Academy of Pediatrics is removing strict time limits on screen use for young children and preschoolers, instead encouraging parents to prioritize educational, interactive and age-appropriate materials.

new guidance Released on Thursday.

However, the previous recommendation of capping 2- to 5-year-olds to 1 hour a day has been relaxed to encourage screen use in interactive and engaging ways, such as educational programs and family-friendly movie nights. Calgary pediatrician Dr. Janice Hurd is a member of the group’s Digital Health Task Force.

She says parents should reduce passive screen use and focus on watching with their child and modeling desired behavior.

“The best thing they can do for their children is to have a one-on-one dialogue with them, if possible,” said Hurd, noting that pandemic lockdowns have reversed the pre-COVID-19 momentum and that various I suspect that the use of screens has been curtailed among age groups.

“Then, when you realize that you’re not teaching anything, especially nothing useful, you naturally reduce the amount of time children spend on the screen. And for very young children, it’s actually very is harmful to

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Screens aren’t inherently bad per se, Hurd said, but they deprive children of important developmental activities. Excessive screen use in young children, she said, can interfere with language development, prosocial behavior, and executive functioning.

The new guidance emphasizes four principles: screen minimization, moderation, mindful use, and modeling healthy screen use.

But by moving away from recommended time limits, parents and families can actively establish boundaries with passive consumption and consider when, how, and why they allow young children to use screens. Mr. Hurd hopes to encourage you to do so.

The same principles apply to older children and teens, Hurd says. Society he issued similar guidance in 2019, encouraging restrictions based on individual children without painstaking cutoffs.

A blurry line to the digital world

Natalie Coulter, director of the Institute for Digital Literacy at York University, said the pediatric society time limit has long been a source of stress for many families unsure of what to expect.

“It presupposes the real simplicity of ‘good times’ and ‘bad times.’ [to define] It’s getting harder to figure out what a screen is anymore,” says Coulter, an associate professor of communication and media studies.

“Today there is a very blurred line between the physical and digital worlds. There is no longer a clear explanation. If you go to school through a screen, is it screen time? Is it real or is it digital? ?”

Coulter is part of a research group that interviewed parents of children ages 4 to 12 about their use of screens during the pandemic. The study included her 15 households in Canada, as well as families in Australia, Colombia, South Korea, the UK, China and the US.

walking a tightrope of messages

Stress about how to meet screen recommendations is a common theme, she says, and the concept of imposed time limits is outdated.

“Parents are under so much pressure and guilt that it’s unrealistic and only adds to the parent’s sense of not being good enough,” says Coulter.

The Pediatric Association guidelines for older children also encourage limits based on the individual child, without painful cutoffs. (Shutterstock)

“There are two girls [and] I’m totally struggling with it. It’s not like we have these great answers. But as with anything, I think as soon as you set a very strict either/or rule, the conversation shuts down a bit. ”

Matthew Johnson, director of education for the Ottawa-based group MediaSmarts, admits there’s a tightrope walk when it comes to messaging. He has been involved in the development of new guidelines as a member of his task force for Digital Health at the Academy of Pediatrics, and said that a focus on harm could undermine the media’s constructive advice on how to build his literacy. points out that there is

“If screen time guidelines seem unrealistic, there is also the risk that they will simply be ignored,” says Johnson.

“Failure to reach that guideline would be so unrealistic that it would seem as if there was nothing that could be done to manage the role of screens in the home. I think it’s much more valuable to establish active use and positive relationships with the screen.”

The new guidance also encourages pediatricians to discuss screen use during routine visits, and Hurd fears not enough families she’s spoken to seem to be aware of the risks of screens. is expressing

“I ask them: ‘How much screen time does your child get?’ I have,” she says.

“And I think, ‘Oh, we’re not doing a good job of educating young parents.

Even small changes can have a big impact on families who want to curb screen use, she said, looking to screen-free times, screen-free areas in the home, and books and crafts as alternatives. I propose

“You don’t have to change your whole life, but even if you do one thing, you can improve the outcome of what happens to your children,” says Heard.

“[At] We all understand CPS, which we are all parents too. We want to be able to give people something tangible that makes a difference without completely disrupting their lives. ”

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