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.

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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

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