Kids are getting too much screen time, say almost half of parents
By Jennifer Hughes
Almost half of Canadian parents say they worry that their children are spending too much time staring at a screen.
A survey by TVO and the Angus Reid Institute, a non-profit research and opinion organization, asked 2,200 parents or guardians of children between the ages of two and 12 about their children’s screen time—the amount of time they spend looking at a smartphone, tablet, TV, or computer. While most (89%) see such devices as helpful educational tools, 46% said that they have concerns about their kids’ screen-time. (A study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in January 2019 linked too much screen-time to negative effects on young children’s development such as problems with memory, attention, and communication skills, and in the spring, the World Health Organization (WHO) released new guidelines for screen time, recommending that children between the ages of two and four spend no more than one hour a day in front of a screen.)
In addition, more than half of those polled (52%) worry about the addictive qualities of such devices, and a similar number (49%) are concerned about their children becoming less physically active; one-third worry about screens distracting their children from more important things and 23% about their children accessing violent or pornographic content.
According to the survey, most parents (34%) believe that their children spend two to four hours of screen time a day; 31% said it was one to two hours a day (31%), and 22% said their kids watched more than four hours a day; only 13% get less than a hour a day of screen time. More than two-thirds (68%) of the parents whose children spend less than an hour with a screen agree that their child is doing well with reading (68%), while that number is 57% among those whose children who spend two to four hours and 41% among those who said their children were with a screen for eight hours or more.
More parents with older children (aged 10–12) expressed concerns about how much time their child is using tech devices (52%) than did those with younger children (aged 6–8) (48%) or toddlers (aged 2–5) (40%).