Kids spend more time in front of screens

A new report says Canadian children are spending too much time in front of screens.

The report, released by Active Healthy Kids Canada, said that 90 per cent of Canadian kids are not getting enough exercise because they are spending too much time in front of television, computer screens and movies.

Children between the ages of 10 and 16 spend about six hours a day in front of a screen. That is three times longer than the recommended daily screen time of two hours or less.

"The results of the Report Card are very disturbing," says Dr. Mark Tremblay, chief scientific officer of Active Healthy Kids Canada. "This trend of extreme inactivity in today's children and youth will have an enormous impact on their development and potentially lead to long-term health issues including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a range of chronic degenerative conditions."

The report said that television and video game use are rising as participation in organized sports is declining. In 1992, 77 per cent of youths aged 15 to 18 played sports. The rate dropped to 59 per cent by 2005.

The report also showed that while more than 90 per cent of parents have access to parks and playgrounds, only 34 per cent of parents use them.

Active Healthy Kids Canada, an advocacy group that lobbies organizations and educates parents on the importance of physical activity in kids, says parents, teachers, community programs and governments need to work together to get kids moving.

The group's recommendations include:

·    Parents keeping kids away from television and video games when they can.
·    Development of more programs that offer free play time to kids.
·    Avoiding exercise that is centred on video games that involve physical activity.