Nature Canada has released a new report that says screen time is having a major negative health impact on Canada's children.
It says that the vast majority of Canadian kids are exceeding recommended screen time for their age, and 85 per cent of children aged 5 to 17 do not meet the guidelines for adequate sleep or physical activity.
The report is titled "Screen Time vs Green Time: The Health Impacts of Too Much Screen," and involves input from medical and research professionals.
"We are seeing a downward trend in the amount of physical activity children are getting in a day as a result of sedentary behaviour linked to screen time,” said Dr. Mark Tremblay, director of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the CHEO Research Institute in Ottawa, and professor at the University of Ottawa.
“The long-term impacts of excessive screen time, prolonged sedentary behaviour and physical inactivity include increased risk of metabolic and cardiovascular issues, such as type-2 diabetes and heart disease, and time in nature and the outdoors is an easy antidote to these consequences of modern living,” he said.
Dr. Michael Cheng, psychiatrist at CHEO, said he is concerned that since excessive screen time is linked to the development of anxiety and sleep disorders in children, he is seeing an uptick in the demand for mental health services at his practice. He prescribes nature to help with the epidemic.
"Families that spend meaningful time together in nature will rediscover the most powerful anti-depressant, getting outside and connecting with each other," Cheng said.
The report finds that spending time in nature has plenty of positive health outcomes.
“When our parents told us to go play outside, they were actually giving us great health advice,” said Jill Sturdy, NatureHood program manager with Nature Canada. “Unfortunately, today excessive screen use is not only robbing our kids of memories playing in the outdoors, it is hurting our kids’ health.”