Screen time

Dr. Olivia Ng, psychologist, McMaster Children’s Hospital

Hi, I’m doctor Olivia Ng, psychologist in the Developmental Pediatrics and Rehabilitation Program at McMaster Children’s Hospital. This video is about how parents can make the best out of screen time.

Types of screen time

Screens are becoming a natural part of our daily life for many families and there are ways to optimize screen use to find the right balance. The first thing is figuring out what type of screen time a child is engaged in.

In general, there are four main types: passive, interactive, social and educational. Passive screen time includes watching T.V. and listening to music, while interactive screen time is playing video games and browsing the internet. Social screen time involves texting and using social media. Educational screen time includes online learning and using the computer for homework.

What’s helpful is focusing more on educational, interactive, or social screen time and less on passive screen time.

Develop a family media plan

One way to moderate the use of screen time is to develop a family media plan that fits your family values. That means developing a plan that everyone in your family can use on a regular basis. This involves deciding on a few things.

First, decide where are the screen-free areas and when are the screen-free times. These are places in your home where screens are not used. It could be the dining room table during dinner time to encourage family interaction, as an example.

Second, choose media that promotes interaction and education. For example, you can watch educational content together and talk about it.

Offline time is important

It also helps to balance online and offline time by having a list of offline activities that are go-tos for your family such as exercising, reading books or outdoor play.

By choosing the type of screen time we use and developing a family media plan, we can all make the best out of screen time.