For the first time in 14 years, the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) has released new guidelines for screen time for children under five years of age.
The latest position statement, called the “gold standard” for screen exposure, was developed by the digital health task force and reported by Globe and Mail health journalist Kelly Grant.
In summary, screen time recommendations for children under the age of two have not changed – it’s still zero. And guidelines for children between the ages of two and five suggest less than one hour in front of a screen accompanied by an adult.
Unlike its American counterpart, the CPS opted not to make exceptions in age guidelines when it comes to video calling features like Skype and FaceTime. But what the two groups can agree on is the lack of evidence that supports any benefits of solo screen time for infants and toddlers.
“Screens are, in a sense, like cookies,” writes Grant. “They’re not great for you to begin with, but they’re really bad for you if they also push all the vegetables off your plate.”
The veggies in this context are the constructive experiences like free play and family time.
Among the studies reviewed for the development of the new Canadian guidelines, most of them looked at the effects of TV exposure on children due to the lack of new research on touch-screen technology. The term “screen time” today now encompasses smart phones, tablets, television, video games, computers, and wearable technology; a significant change from what used to reference morning and after-school cartoons.
An addition to the new guidelines is the inclusion of management strategies when it comes to screen time and young children. The CPS recommends that families follow the four “M”s: minimize, mitigate, mindful, and model.
- Minimize screen exposure for all children under the age of five. Maintain daily screen-free time at meals and before bedtime.
- Mitigate the risks associated with screen time by co-viewing content with children.
- Be mindful of your own screen habits and develop a family media plan for the allowance of screens.
- Model healthy screen use by turning off technology during family time and when not in use.
The new gold standard addresses parental concerns about the ever-changing technology landscape and guides paediatric advice for healthcare providers.
We want to know, how does your family manage screen time?