Be a role model for using screens

26 October, 2022 • Par Laurence Morency-Guay

By Laurence Morency-Guay

Fewer screens for children

Recommendations for the use of screens at a young age are quite strict, which is a good thing given the negative impacts that prolonged exposure to them has on the development of children. It is especially in the language and cognitive spheres that the consequences are the greatest for children who regularly indulge in the manipulation of tablets, telephones or the viewing of various programs. The screens offer such intense stimulation that they come to screw up the executive functions in full development: the skills of attention, memory and language, among others, are found affected and diminished, thus accentuating the importance of controlling the screen exposure.

Fewer screens for parents

It will be all the more difficult to help children develop healthy habits of screen consumption if their own parents are constantly behind a computer or a telephone. Adults have the excuse of being much less disturbed than children when faced with exposure to screens, but it is nonetheless important to reflect on our use of them to support children in good habits, since we act as a model. Social learning is very strong: children observe their parents and reproduce their behavior. They are interested in what occupies us and they will want to pay as much attention to screens as we do if they are an integral part of our daily environment.

Here are some tips to establish better screen habits and limit their access to children:

  • If possible, do not have a television in the family room. Either it ends up in a cupboard that closes, or it is placed in a less frequented room. Thus, turning it on at the slightest opportunity is less accessible, which will reduce the habit of looking at it.
  • Plan specific times to watch a program (as a family) and stick to these times so as not to lose track of screen time.
  • Plan listening times when the children are in bed or when they are outside: this allows you to dedicate family time to more rewarding activities and to fully enjoy this time for yourself.
  • Keep computers in defined rooms, such as an office, if possible. This avoids stretching work periods and doing it in front of the children.
  • Do not keep phones within easy reach when at home. We are thus less inclined to consult social networks and emails and to manipulate devices in front of children.
  • Store the tablets in a drawer and do not let children under 5 use them for "play". There is no really educational activity for toddlers on tablets, so we avoid offering them to handle them. School-aged children will sometimes have activities to do in connection with school and can use them as needed, but we prioritize activities in books, in notebooks or that allow real sensory exploration for the little ones, since all of this will contribute to their healthy development.

Obviously, this list is not exhaustive and is above all intended to inspire you to change your habits. Take these tips and apply them to your family reality, your personal context and your living environment: only you can know what makes you comfortable as a parent!