Primary: Some advice and common sense about screen time
Mobile Devices and Computers Are Everywhere
Like adults, children are using electronic devices at home and school more and more. However, Canadian doctors and the Society for Exercise Physiology recommend a maximum of two hours per day of screen time for children age 4-17 (and no screen time prior to age 2). They do this mostly to combat sedentary behaviour and encourage social interactions. We understand that when all screens are combined, television, game centres, mobile devices, computers, etc., this is a challenge for most of us.
What We Do At School
At school, we use our in-class devices predominantly to accomplish tasks that would be impossible with pencil and paper (like taking photographs, making videos, creating slideshows, learning some simple programming, etc.) or to increase engagement (e.g. practising spelling or basic math facts). In all grades, we explicitly teach printing or cursive writing, how to take notes by hand and how to use different paper-based media both in art and other classes. In Kindergarten through Grade 3 we usually publish our work by handwriting it. We want students to develop hand-eye co-ordination as well as learn to be creative both with and without electronic devices.
As educators, we are cognizant of screen time and the boys in Primary have two recesses and PE everyday. We also consider what is actually being done with our iPads and laptops. For example, creating a video to teach a friend something may be more valuable than playing an electronic game for entertainment only. Or, collaborating with someone around one screen to create something may build more social skills than watching a video by yourself. So creative and/or collaborative tasks are seen as more beneficial than solitary activities that are “just for fun.”
What You Can Do At Home
At home you can help to encourage appropriate behaviour by:
- setting time limits for use of televisions, computers, mobile devices and other electronic devices, and balance screen time with active or creative play and hobbies
- setting rules around when, where and for what purpose electronic devices can be used in your home (We recommend public places such as kitchens, living rooms, etc. rather than bedrooms) and talk about the content
- turning off all screens long before bedtime
- modelling all of the above for your son
If you would like more information, Common Sense Media has many Parent resources for managing electronics at home, or feel free to come in and chat with us.