The Health Benefits of Screen-Free Family Time

If you’ve ever scoffed at a family sitting at a table in a restaurant, hunched over their devices while waiting for their dishes to arrive instead of interacting with each other, you’re not alone. In fact, you’ve likely been in their shoes too!

The reality is, 85 percent of Canadian children under 5 spend more time on devices than the suggested guidelines. We’ve become a screen-dependent society, and it’s starting to take a toll on the cognitive development of our children.

kids on devices

In honour of Speech and Hearing month this May, a province-wide campaign has been launched by Speech and Hearing BC, to encourage more face-to-face interactions between parent and child.

Talk Spot, the name of the campaign, aims to decrease the cognitive development risks associated with screen use by young children, by encouraging parents to enjoy more screen-free family time. This not only strengthens the parent-child relationship, but there are health benefits associated with in-person conversations with your kids too.

“In-person conversations have immensely positive effects on a child’s cognitive development, increasing their vocabulary and language understanding up to six times more than passive communication alone. [1] 

Some of the benefits of scheduled screen-free family time include:

  • Immense positive effects on a child’s cognitive development, increasing their vocabulary and language understanding up to six times more than passive communication alone.
  • Children who experience consistent and diverse communication can perform more than two years ahead of their peers in verbal and memory skills by the age of five.
  • A healthy and loving connection between parent and child is reinforced through eye contact and face-time.

A Talk Spot is anywhere people can communicate face-to-face with someone they love. This could be in the car, at the dinner table, in the community centre, at the mall, in the park: anywhere that facilitates discussion unhindered by the distraction of a screen. Parents, caregivers and communities are encouraged to create their own Talk Spots throughout the month – and beyond.

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With the tech-takeover of today, this initiative has become necessary, and in recognition of the importance of early childhood development, The City of Vancouver has announced Monday, May 21 as the inaugural Talk Spot Day.

Here are some ways that you can support this important month-long initiative:
  • Join the Thunderclap campaign. Thunderclap is a platform that allows a large group of people to share one, simple message at the same time, across social media. This will help Talk Spot gain instant visibility on May 1, and it only takes a couple of seconds to set up.
  • Follow Speech and Hearing BC on Facebook or Twitter. Sharing or retweeting the Talk Spot message throughout May will help to reach a larger audience.
  • Share the campaign posts and graphics with conversation starters, tips, and quick facts across social media.
  • Share your own photos! Share photos of Talk Spots in your community using #talkspot, and be part of the conversation.

Speech and Hearing BCAbout Speech and Hearing BC
Speech and Hearing BC is a not-for-profit of more than 1,200 licensed speech-language pathologists and audiologists committed to improving communication health for British Columbians. They provide information resources, advocacy, and professional support for people of all ages. Members provide assessment and treatment to individuals who are experiencing problems with their speech, language, hearing, voice, swallowing, fluency, or social communication. They are almost entirely volunteer run.

About WCFM