Pediatricians offer new guidelines for screen time

Parents are encouraged to limit screen time as much as possible, especially for children under 5



Kids these days have a hard time keeping their eyes off screens. Today’s children are being raised in the digital era, where it’s hard to imagine not owning some type of smart phone or electronic device. However, there are many potential drawbacks, especially for young children.

The Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) recently released a statement advising parents of children under the age of 5 to limit screen time as much as possible.

“Children younger than age 5 need active play and family time to develop essential life skills,” says Dr. Michelle Ponti, chair of the CPS Digital Health Task Force.

According to Ponti, face-to-face interaction is crucial for young children and excessive screen time should be avoided. To reduce potential harm and increase productivity and development, CPS provided guidelines for parents to follow, which they call ‘the 4 Ms:‘

1. Minimize:

CPS says children 2 and younger should not have any screen time. Those 2-5 should be limited to less than one hour per day, and all screens should be turned off at least one hour before bedtime.

2. Mitigate:

Parents should prioritize educational and interactive programming, and should watch or play along with their child. They should also encourage critical thinking and questioning while devices are in use.

3. Be Mindful:

Parents should be aware of when screens are being used and for how long. They should make sure that screens are only used for specific reasons.

4. Model:

Parents should be aware that their use of devices can influence their children, so they should model healthy viewing habits by turning off screens when not in use.

A 2016 CPS survey found that parents were seeking advice on how to manage their child’s viewing habits, set appropriate limits on duration, and understand the positive and negative effects of screen time. With their new statement, CPS hopes to provide parents with the tools to address their concerns and practice habits that promote healthy development.

For more information, visit www.cps.ca.

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