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Montreal Families

Initiative strives to help families manage time spent on screens

With every passing day, it seems people are spending more time on screens. Although there are many benefits associated with being online, there are also harmful effects from too much screen time.

PAUSE is a new Quebec-based campaign that promotes a balanced use of screens to prevent the risks associated with hyperconnectivity. Families are encouraged to become aware of their use of screens and to take action to improve their digital habits.

The PAUSE website offers year-round information and advice, as well as tools and resources for parents. In addition, it hosts a 24-hour unplugged challenge with cash prizes, in November, for youth and families.

The website provides parents with a three-step approach to screen time: Understanding Hyperconnectivity, Evaluating their Situation and Striving for Balance.

Understanding Hyperconnectivity explains that everything seems to push us toward screen use. With wider access to Wi-Fi, digital devices allow us to stay continually connected to the online world.  We often use our screens without a second thought, whether at home, school, work, or during our leisure time. Allowing screens to monopolize our time can lead to a number of problems including: lower levels of physical activity, vision problems, poor self-esteem, increased anxiety & depression, and a decline in interpersonal relationships and the ability to make friends.

Evaluating their Situation explains how to balance the use of technology, gives recommendations for children’s screen use, and offers advice about when a parent should be concerned about the amount of time a teen is spending online. There is also a list of resources and tools to help families improve digital habits.

Striving for Balance gives specific examples about how to control your device, which can help reduce the amount of time spent using screens. For example, turn down non-essential visual and audio notifications. Also, set up a feature on your phone to manage time or download an app for this purpose. Families can set their router to disable Internet access at a certain hour, assuring all members are offline for a period of time. Another section for explains how parents can model healthy screen use for their children.

PAUSE aims to ensure that technology is at our service and not the other way around. The program is an initiative between the Government of Quebec and Capsana, a company founded in 1988 that promotes healthy lifestyles and supports individuals taking an active role in their physical and mental health, and the implementation of health-supporting environments. It is owned by the ÉPIC Foundation, which is associated with the Montreal Heart Institute, and the Fondation PSI (Prévention santé intégrale). Capsana is made up of a multidisciplinary team of health professionals, communication experts and information-technology specialists.

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