ParticipACTION is launching a new campaign to increase awareness about how screen time is taking away from play time. Inactivity has become a major health problem for Canadian children. Only five percent of Canadian kids accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily. The relationship between physical activity and mental health in children has been well documented. One affects the other. Increased levels of physical activity can generate significantly improved mental health outcomes for all children such as improving their self-esteem and lowering depression, anxiety, psychological distress and emotional disturbance. This is especially true, when physical activity is combined with other important social determinants of health such as access to nutritious foods and social inclusion and support.1
While there is no singular cause or silver bullet solution, one of the contributing factors to inactivity is related to the increased time that kids spend in sedentary behaviours, especially in front of screens. Canadian kids spend an average of seven hours and 48 minutes a day in front of television, video games, smartphones and computer screens.
Over the course of a week that is more time than their parents spend at work!
The campaign includes a series of 30-second videos that grab parents’ attention and makes them think about their own family’s screen time habits at the expense of active play time. Solution-oriented content that helps parents wrestle control back over screens within the family setting, and inspirational content that enables parents to play an active role in helping their kids get the physical activity they need to be healthy and happy, are available on the website and social media channels.
We all need to play a part in encouraging Canada’s kids to be as active as possible not only for the physical health benefits but also for the positive mental health outcomes as well. So lets make room for play by turning virtual play into real, active play!
Learn more about the campaign at the Make Room for Play website.
Read about more about the links between mind and body and some initiatives addressing this connection on the CMHA Ontario website.
 Ahn, S. and A. Fedewa (2011) A Meta analysis of the Relationship Between Children’s Physical Activity and Mental Health. J. Pediatr. Psychol. (2011) 36 (4): 385-397. Accessed online at: http://jpepsy.oxfordjournals.org/content/36/4/385.full.pdf+html