Power Off and Play



Theme 4: Power Off and Play!

"Power Off and Play!" aimed to reduce childrens recreational and sedentary screen time.

Too much screen time can harm early brain and language development, physical health and psychological well-being, and takes time away from healthy activities, like playing, moving and reading.

Here are some ideas to help children and families build a balanced day:

  • Stay within recommended screen time limits
  • Put screens away during important times of day (e.g. bed time, during meals and snacks).
  • Replace screen time with other activities (physical activities, social interactions, and educational activities)

It's all about powering off devices and playing more!

The following resources for your family are available for download:

Family Pledge (disponible en français)

Screen-time tracking sheet (disponible en français)


There are three ways that screen time can be addressed.

1. Stay within recommended screen time limits

Health and health promotion experts in Canada recommend limiting children's exposure to screens. This can reduce the associated health risks and promote positive health outcomes. This chart sums up the guidelines:

2. Put screens away during important times of day

Screen time can interfere with important daily routines, making it difficult for children to stay healthy. In particular, it's vital to power off screens for sleep time and meal time. 

Sleep Time

The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends young children avoid screens for at least one hour before bed time and removing all  screens from the children's bedrooms. Sleep is important for children's health and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology's 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth recommend the following sleep guidelines, along with consistent bed and wake-up times:

Meal and snack time

Health experts recommend screen-free family meals. Screen time can prompt children to eat unhealthy foods, as they see lots of ads for unhealthy foods and drinks on TV and the internet. Research further shows that screen time is linked to mindless overeating even when there are no food ads. 

Eating meals away from screens and eating meals as a family, on the other hand, contribute to healthy eating in children. 

3. Replacing some screen time with other activities

When children spend time in front of screens, they have less time for other healthy activities. A balanced day should be filled with learning, physical activity, social interaction and fun activities. 

Physical activitiy

We need to give kids ways to replace screen time with active outdoor play. Physical activity has many health benefits for children, promoting their physical, psychological/social and cognitive health. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology's 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth aged 5-17 years recommends a mix of physical activities which include:

  • Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity adding up to at least 60 minutes a day
  • Activities to strengthen muscle and bone at least 3 days a week
  • A mix of structured and unstructured light physical activities for several hours each day


Social interaction

Face-to-face interactions and family time should take priority over screen time. Real-life social interactions are good for children. Parent-child interactions are especially important for children's health because they help children:

  • Build emotional connections
  • Develop language
  • Build mental and social skills
  • Regulate their emotions


Fun and educational activities

Choose healthy alternatives to screen time such as reading and play. Play supports your child's development because it contributes to their cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being. Play helps children develop creativity and imagination. It builds confidence and resiliency. Children learn how to work with others and gain independence. 

Screens can also interfere with children's reading time. They are more likely to use devices such as tablets to play games than to read, and if they have a TV in their bedrooms they are less likely to read.

Let's find a healthy balance