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Montreal, June 11, 2020 – With summer just around the corner and gradual deconfinement started, families will need to develop a new routine. However, it is important to acknowledge that the drastic increase of online activities within families in the last few months will not simply disappear. To support Quebec parents during these unusual times and give them the necessary boost to face this new, even more connected, reality, PAUSE has created a simple, practical tool to maintain (or take back!) control of screen time.
According to a survey conducted by Statistics Canada between March 29 and April 3, 2020¹, time spent on the Internet drastically increased for 75% of Canadians aged 15 to 49, while 66% of them spend more time watching TV, and 35% spend more time playing video games than before the pandemic. For the past few months, screens have profoundly affected many lifestyle habits, and as they are being used for teleworking, distance learning, and leisure activities, it is safe to say they are here to stay. However, when screens are misused or overused, they can have harmful effects on overall health, for both young and old. How then can you continue your activities while ensuring you benefit from all the advantages the Internet has to offer, without the disadvantages? To help families reach “online balance” and remind them of the importance of unplugging as a family, the PAUSE team developed the PAUSE practical guide for the family, available on the Pauseyourscreen.com website. The first part of this tool provides tips to better manage screen use at home, whereas the second section features an agreement about screen time between parents and teens, which can be customized according to the realities of each family, as recently recommended by the Institut national de santé publique.2
Since the beginning of the crisis, some parents have been worried that their teens are spending a lot of time online, whereas others feel guilty for not setting limits. However, greater use does not automatically imply a problem. Despite this, it is still essential for parents to be on the lookout for signs that could indicate problematic Internet use, without necessarily meaning cyberaddiction. “For example, parents should be able to recognize whether their teens are showing rigid behaviour, if their screen time interferes with meals or sleep, or if they seem to have lost their bearings,” explains Magali Dufour, doctor of psychology as well as president of the PAUSE committee of experts. “The important thing is to set some limits regarding screen use and to openly discuss it as a family in order to ensure that screen time does not adversely affect other aspects of health,” she continues. To get the conversation going, setting an example is undoubtedly the first step as parents will always be the first role models for their children. “As for youth who were more at risk before the pandemic, they are even more so now with this new hyperconnected reality. Their parents need to be even more vigilant and must get involved to prevent the situation from deteriorating, and especially not hesitate to contact one of the support resources listed at Pauseyourscreen.com if this is the case,” concludes Dr. Dufour.
PAUSE promotes a balanced use of the Internet in order to prevent the risks associated with hyperconnectivity while still enjoying the benefits of technology. This campaign, developed for young adults, teens and their parents, is an initiative of Capsana made possible with the support of the Secrétariat à la jeunesse and the collaboration of a committee of experts and a support network. To find out more, visit Pauseyourscreen.com.
Capsana is a social enterprise owned by the ÉPIC Foundation, which is associated with the Montreal Heart Institute, and the Fondation PSI. Probably best known to the general public through the annual Health Challenge campaign, its mission is to help individuals take an active role in their health. To find out more, visit capsana.ca.
1. Statistique Canada (2020). How are Canadians coping with the COVID-19 situation? www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2020029-eng.htm
2. Institut national de santé publique (2020). L’utilisation des écrans en contexte de pandémie de COVID-19 — quelques pistes d’encadrement. (Only available in French.) inspq.qc.ca/publications/3015-utilisation-ecrans-pistes-encadrement-covid19