Unplug & Play: March 23rd-29th


“Turn off the screens. Turn up the play.” That’s the message from ParticipACTION, Canada’s national voice for physical activity. It is a week meant to encourage physical activity over screen time. With statistics noting that the average Canadian child spends close to 8 hours a day in front of a screen, and levels of physical inactivity at an all-time high, this is your chance to get moving!

Screen time is identified as one of the main barriers to play – video games, television, smartphones and tablets are all now part of our everyday lives, and children are now growing up in a world surrounded by technology. With only 5% of kids meeting the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines of 60 minutes of physical activity every day (http://www.csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/CSEP-InfoSheets-child-ENG.pdf), pledging to Unplug & Play from March 23rd-29th is a week to lead by example – dedicated to putting down the electronics for at least 60 minutes a day and getting outside for some physical activity.

“Everything in moderation” is a well-known phrase – the key to freeing up time to get active is moderating kids’ screen-time. We know that active and free play promote motor skill development and greater physical activity participation. In turn, this has been shown to be positively associated with improved cognitive functioning including reading, language, and mathematics. The acute effects of exercise have also shown to be associated with a reduction in negative behaviours (i.e. hyperactivity) as well as better academic test performances in children with high levels of fitness (see research articles by Verret, 2011 and Haapala, 2013 for further detail).

So the question is…Why not be physically active? The 2014 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card found that 61% of Canadian parents strongly or somewhat agree that their child spends too much time watching television or using the computer. We know that screen time is a barrier to physical activity, but is one that can be overcome! So this March, take the pledge to Unplug & Play. Visit www.participaction.com for more resources. Now turn off your devices and go outside and get active!