With the evolution of technology into all aspects of life, the challenge of reducing your child’s screen time is tougher than ever.

The Timmins-Misiway Healthy Kids Community Challenge is launching the “Power Off and Play!” initiative, one that’s aimed at reducing sedentary screen time.

“More often, kids are using screens for recreational purposes such as watching movies or playing games,” says Project Manager Madison Mizzau, “And they’re usually sitting or laying down.”

This fourth theme wants to replace that time with more physical activity.

And it doesn’t always have to be full-out physical activity either.

Mizzau says something as simple as completing a puzzle or playing a board game helps to encourage social interaction with other people and your child’s cognitive development.

She adds at important times of the day, taking away technology can be crucial.

“Right before bed, if kids are on their screens, it can really impact negatively their sleep quality as well as their sleep duration,” she said, “And if they’re watching screens while they’re eating, they’re not as aware of what they’re eating or how much they’re eating.”

Over usage can also lead to poor cognitive language and attention skills development in kids, Mizzau says.

The Canadian Society for Exercise and the Canadian Pediatric Society also have recommended screen time limits:

  • Under 2 years of age – no screen time
  • 2-4 years – less than 1 hour per day
  • 5-17 years – no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time per day

“Our world is so technologically-connected, that we sometimes forget too much screen time can have lasting negative effects on our children’s development,” says Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Dr. Eric Hoskins.

“Encouraging our kids to unplug and engage in more physical and social activities will help improve their overall physical and emotional health and well-being.”

Porcupine Health Unit Health Promoter Martin Paul adds “the convenience of technology should not come before the well-being of our children.”

“The benefits of physical activity are way too important to ignore when it comes to the healthy development of our children. Disconnecting from virtual play and connecting with real play will provide lifelong benefits.”

The Community Challenge is promoting this new theme with a number of activities in the community in the next little while, including:

  • An Amazing Race weeklong event February 17-24, 2018 with free activities for children and families
  • Community play boxes in local parks with an assortment of physical activity equipment and ideas for active play
  • Outdoor Adventure Kits at our local libraries

Timmins is among 45 communities selected to take part in the Healthy Kids Community Challenge. To help fund these, and many more community projects, the Timmins-Misiway Healthy Kids Community Challenge is receiving up to $175,000 from the province.

Filed under: Local News