Screens: True or false

Screens: True or false
Screen time: Separating fact from fiction

Screen time: Separating fact from fiction

Having the TV on when nobody’s watching it isn’t good for kids.

True

Long periods of TV background noise can affect a child’s development. “It can interfere with language, concentration, intellectual development, and executive functions [e.g., organization, planning, and managing emotions],” says Dr. Stacey Bélanger of CHU Sainte-Justine. Even if the kids aren’t watching, having the TV on is a distraction that prevents them from doing more stimulating activities, such as interacting with their parents and caregivers or playing with toys.

During the holidays, kids have the right to relax, so it isn’t necessary to limit their screen time.

False

“Children shouldn’t view screens as the only way to relax or the most fun activity,” says Cathy Tétreault of Centre Cyber-aide. “Over the holidays, we should be spending more time as a family and doing things we don’t usually get to do. Screen time shouldn’t be a priority. Bad habits form fast, and it might be hard to go back to normal afterwards.” Thierry Plante of MediaSmarts suggests focusing on quality over quantity. “You can use electronic devices to do creative activities with children like making music or animated videos.”

Childcare centres aren’t allowed to use screens, not even for watching educational programs.

False

Current regulations allow educational childcare centres to use TVs or other audiovisual equipment if they are part of the curriculum. However, even though screens are not prohibited, the Ministère de la Famille suggests avoiding them because young children should spend their time moving around and exploring their environment rather than looking at screens. If you’re concerned about your child being exposed to screens at daycare, don’t hesitate to talk to the educator.

Watching TV or videos at mealtimes encourages children to eat more even if they’re no longer hungry.

True

Watching TV or playing a video game while eating distracts children from what’s on their plate. When they’re absorbed by what’s happening on the screen, they eat automatically without necessarily thinking about whether they’re hungry. This can lead to overeating. In order for your child to learn to listen to her body and not eat when she’s not hungry, it’s important not to use screens at mealtimes. It’s also easier to have family discussions that way!

Watching TV calms children down.

Neither true nor false

According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, screens can be useful from time to time for calming an overexcited child. However, it’s important to avoid content that is overstimulating (special effects, loud volume, fast editing, etc.). At the same time, screens can become a crutch if used too often: the child might come to rely on screens to manage his behaviour and emotions. It’s also not a good idea to make a habit of using screens to deal with difficult behaviour, as the child might perceive it as a reward.

It’s important for young children to learn to use a computer or tablet, otherwise they’ll lag behind their peers when they start school.

False

Using digital technologies at a young age isn’t beneficial to a child’s development and doesn’t give kids an advantage in school later. “Children learn to use technology very quickly,” says psychologist Marie-Anne Sergerie. “What we should really be concerned about is kids who spend too much time looking at screens.” Media education specialist Normand Landry adds, “What benefits kids at school isn’t knowing how to use a tablet but having been read to.”

 

Photos: Getty Images/Damircudic, globalmoments, and Monkey Business

 

Naitre et grandir.com

Source: Naître et grandir magazine, May–June 2019
Research and copywriting: Nathalie Vallerand
Scientific review: Catalina Briceño, author and visiting professor at UQAM’s media school