Too much screen time – Canadian children and youth not meeting 24-hour movement guidelines


Ottawa, Ontario — Monday February 27, 2023

A new study coming out of the CHEO Research Institute indicates that 96.2% of Canadian children and youth did not meet the 24-hour movement guidelines six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and 73% did not meet screen time recommendations. Researchers found that low parental perceived capability to restrict screen time and less time spent outdoors was a big reason why.

“Already high levels of screen-time and sedentary behaviors we have seen in children and youth were made worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important that parents feel equipped to limit their children’s screen time and encourage more outdoor time,” said Dr. Mark Tremblay, Senior Scientist at the CHEO Research Institute, and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Ottawa.

Using data from an online survey of a nationally representative sample of more than 1,100 parents in Canada, Mark Tremblay, Michelle Guerrero, and Leigh Vanderloo aimed to identify risk profiles for children (5-11 years) and youth (12–17 years) not meeting healthy movement guidelines for physical activity, screen time and sleep, six months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Their results showed that only 3.8% met all movement behavior recommendations, 16.2% met the physical activity recommendation, 27% met the screen time recommendation, and 63.8% met the sleep recommendation.  Pandemic-related factors have impacted children and youth differently, but the results emphasize the importance of parental perceived ability to restrict screen time and children’s and youth’s outdoor time as factors that may help children achieve healthy movement behaviour recommendations during pandemic-related restrictions.

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