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Screen Time and the Early Years

As a parent do you know that there are screen time recommendations for your child?

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (0-4 Years) recommends that children should limit their time in front of screens. Too much screen time can keep kids from being active, playing inside and outside, and spending time with their friends and family. Children need to move and play.

The term “screen time” today is any time spent with any screen. Some examples include televisions, computers, hand held  devices (e.g. tablets, phones) and wearable technology.

The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for the Early Years (0-4 Years) recommends:

Infants and Toddlers under 2 years – No screen time recommended

Children 2 – 4 years – No more than 1 hour per day, less is better

What can you do to support your family to move more and reduce screen time?

  • Set screen free times (i.e. meal times, family time, book sharing and bedtime routines).
  • Quality family time provides opportunity to develop life skills such as language, self-regulation and creative thinking.
  • Turn off screens when not in use.
  • Encourage active free play both indoors and outdoors. Children need to move and play.
  • Make activities fun, provide support and encouragement. If children are enjoying themselves, they will be more active.
  • Maintain screen free zones. For example, no screens in the bedrooms. They can interfere with sleep.
  • Be a role model and be aware of your own screen time use when you are around children. Children learn by watching how we behave.


Screen time should be avoided or very limited in the early years.
If there is screen time it should be educational, age appropriate and if possible watched together so there can be some discussion and interactions about what they see and hear. Managing screen time can be a challenge but being mindful about the use of screen time can provide opportunities for conversation, play, and healthy active routines. Let’s start healthy habits early!

For more information on the guidelines:

1 Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology. Guidelines. Retrieved from http://www.csep.ca/home
2 ParticipACTION. 2018. The ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Retrieved from https://www.participaction.com/en-ca/thought-leadership/report-card/2018
3 Canadian Paediatric Society. Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world. Retrieved from https://www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/screen-time-and-young-children



The Community Early Years Partnership disseminates information about and promotes optimal infant and early childhood development to healthcare providers, community partners, parents and caregivers.


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