Child on tablet

How to reduce screen time for the whole family

How often do you sit down for a family meal and out comes everyone’s cellphones? Reducing your electronic screen time and spending more time together learning as a family can have many positive effects including developing better communications and social skills for children.

According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, young children learn best by interacting face-to-face with caring adults and not with screens. They recommend having no screen time for those under two-years of age and for children two- to five-years, less than an hour a day.

Here are some alternatives to screen time and tips to get you started:

  • At the dinner table: Talk about your day, play with your food, prepare meals together as a family
  • In the car: Have a family sing-a-long to your favourite music, identify makes and models of passing cars
  • In bedrooms and sleep areas: Read a book as a family, have a friendly pillow fight, make a fort
  • During playtime: Play board games, make a craft, create a work of art through painting and colouring
  • Keep in touch with others: Visit your neighbour, make a card for your uncle, call a friend

Additionally, the blue light emitted from cell phones, tablets, and televisions before bedtime can have a detrimental affect on sleep patterns. According to Psychology Today, this blue light suppresses melatonin production and alters circadian rhythms that are both essential to a good night’s sleep.

The benefits of reducing screen time in favour of alternative activities is two-fold: better health and sleep, as well as increased communications and engagement among family members.

To recognize the importance of spending more time together learning and playing as a family, ABC Life Literacy Canada will be celebrating Family Literacy Day on January 27th. Family Literacy Day is a national initiative to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. Visit FamilyLiteracyDay.ca for more activity ideas, free downloadable resources and to check for local Family Literacy Day events.