Make Room for Play

A photo posted by Julia Gabriel (@nugglemama) on

This is a picture of my kids “playing” outside, on a TV and Xbox they built out of snow. While I’m happy they went outside it was still a bit of a head slap moment when I saw that.

More and more I find myself getting frustrated with them repeatedly asking me to have just 20 more minutes on the computer. I have resorted to the threat of chores if they didn’t take themselves upstairs or outside, more than once. For now it’s working, but there has to be a better way.

Sure it would be easy to give in and let them have 20 more minutes to finish their show, or their game. They’d be occupied and I would have more time to get things done around the house, or heck, maybe even time to sit down and read a little. Easy, yes, but better for their developing bodies and brains, probably not.


A recent survey commissioned by ParticipACTION found 74 per cent of parents with children 12 and under have used a screen to occupy their children when they are busy, trying to get things done or want some quiet time. I know I’ve been guilty of it more than once, but, it’s important to remember moderating kids’ screen time is essential for healthy development. ParticipACTION’s new campaign, Make Room for Play, calls on Canadian families to put down their screens to encourage more active play.

Did you know – the average Canadian child spends seven hours and 48 minutes a day in front of screens.1 That’s more than a full work week! Sure kids need to have some down time, and for many that is TV or gaming, but do they really need that much?

I have worked hard at limiting how much screen time my kids have, but I know can do better. While we have cut the cable cord and have set amounts of time the kids can have on their computer, now that all of them have their own tablets, or gamepads, I need to work even hard to ensure that they get enough

physical activity each week. That means leading by example, and shutting my computer and phone down on the weekends and evenings and getting active with them. Really it’s a win/win for everyone. To help me reach my goals I’ll be checking out for ideas for how kids—from toddlers to teens—can reduce screen time and increase play time. Some of which I have already implemented such as:

  • Make family rules that limit how much screen time your kids are allowed each day.
  • Eliminate background TV as it’s likely to draw your child’s attention. Instead, turn on music.
  • Set a good example and limit your own screen time.
  • For younger children, avoid using screens as an “electronic babysitter”.
  • For older children, don’t allow a TV, computer, or cell phone in your child’s bedroom.

It’s time for a tech diet to start off the New Year. Will you be joining me?

1 From December 22 to December 29, 2014, an online survey was conducted among a sample of 1005 Canadian adults age 18+ who are parents of children 0-12 years old and are also Angus Reid Forum panel members. The margin of error — which measures sampling variability — is +/-3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The sample was balanced by age of child to provide equal representation. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

This post was sponsored by ParticipACTION. All opinions expressed are my own.

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2 opinions on “Make Room for Play”

  1. I worry about this with my boys all the time. With our busy lives it is so difficult to make sure they’re getting enough true PLAY time… screen time is NOT play time.

  2. It doesn’t get any easier as they get older, and as yours get older, staying connected becomes more of a priority anymore then just fun or something to do. I often miss what my beautiful 17 year old daughter looks like without her phone in her face…..

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