Moving to Learn

Screens, Sleep and Play – Guidelines for Healthy Living

Children are overusing screens 4-5 times what Doctors recommend. Three out of four children are sleep deprived, adversely affecting their health, mood, and school performance. Time spent sedentary and indoors, prevents engagement in critical factors for growth and success. Playing outside in nature builds physical, social, emotional and cognitive skills, ensuring optimal development, behavior, and learning. Why not unplug your family this summer, and make a commitment to building bodies and brains for success! If unplugging your family is too much for you, follow below expert guidelines for screens, sleep and play.

Click image to enlarge.

Try one of the following strategies to better manage balance between technology use and healthy activity, for your whole family!

  1. Disconnect to reconnect by creating sacred times without screens:

✓ an hour a day (dinner), day a week (Saturday), and week a year (family holiday) screen free.

✓ while driving in the car, an hour before bed, and when eating dinner or at restaurants.

  1. Balance screens with healthy outdoor play; encourage children to ‘play first, screens later’.
  1. Don’t let your child take screens to bed; may need to lock screens in a drawer or put up out of reach to ensure kids don’t sneak screens at night.

Instead of screens, ride bikes, walk in the forest, chop and pack wood, go fishing, go swimming, visit family and friends, build a fort, prepare and eat dinner as a family, paint, color, make crafts, dance, play wrestle, listen to music, play cards or a board game, invent your own game, make up silly stories or rhymes, garden, play tag or hide and seek, read books, play a sport, make cookies, do chores…and do it with friends or as a family!

This article was written by Cris Rowan, pediatric occupational therapists, biologist, author and international speaker on the impact of technology on children. Cris’s website is, blog is, and book is Cris can be reached at

© Zone’in Programs Inc. 2018

Cris Rowen

Cris Rowan, BScOT, BScBi, SIPT

Cris Rowan is a biologist, pediatric occupational therapist and sensory specialist with expertise in the impact of technology on child development, behaviour and learning. Having worked in school settings for over 3 decades, Cris is committed to improving student health while also easing the job of learning for children. Cris is a well-known international speaker and author to teachers, parents and therapists globally on topics of sensory integration, learning, attention, fine motor skills and the impact of media content including video games, social media and pornography on children’s brain and body development. Cris has a BSc’s both in Occupational Therapy and in Biology, is a SIPT certified sensory specialist, and has Approved Provider Status for CEU provision with the American Occupational Therapy Association. Over the past 3 decades, Cris has provided over 350 keynotes and workshops, writes monthly articles for her blog Moving to Learn, publishes the monthly Child Development Series Newsletter, and is designer and creator of Reconnect Webinars which offer research evidenced information for teens, parents, teachers and clinicians to manage balanced between screens and healthy activities. Cris is member of the Screens in Schools committee with Fairplay for Kids, member of the Institute for Digital Media and Child Development and sits on the Board of Directors for the Global Alliance for Brain and Heart Health. Cris has two adult children, Matt and Katie who grew up without screens.

Cris can be reached at Reconnect Webinars offers a free, 5.5-hour CCAP accredited Screenbuster Program training webinar for teens which qualifies them to perform Tech Talks for their peers. The Screenbuster Program requires one counsellor, teacher or principal to complete the 3-day Balanced Technology Management certification CEU provided course in order to adequately supervise the teens.

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