Image Credit: Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm ObserverDylan Hamilton readies to boot a ball through a hoop in one of the activities at the Under the Lights Family Snowshoe Night Unplug and Play event at Little Mountain Sports Fields Thursday, Jan. 26.

Editorial: Quality time without a screen

Drivers attempting to operate a 3,000-pound motor vehicle while reading text messages on a cell phone, young children glued to a screen, people sitting in a waiting room perusing their phones or tablets but not speaking to each other.

Drivers attempting to operate a 3,000-pound motor vehicle while reading text messages on a cell phone, young children glued to a screen, people sitting in a waiting room perusing their phones or tablets but not speaking to each other.

It’s no secret that cell phones, tablets and laptops are a huge part of many people’s lives.

There are, no doubt, many advantages to the vast and immediate distribution of communication, information, entertainment and more. But, there are downsides.

A study on the Canadian Pediatric Society website makes some recommendations regarding children.

They include: screen time for children younger than two years is not recommended; for children two to five years, routine screen time should be less than one hour per day; screen time should not be a routine part of child care for children younger than five; screens should be avoided for at least one hour before bedtime given the potential for melatonin-suppressing effects, and daily ‘screen-free’ times should be part of a family’s routine, especially for family meals and book sharing.

The society lists some ways to reduce risks associated with screen time include: being present and engaged when screens are in use and, whenever possible, watching with kids. Also being aware of content and prioritizing age-appropriate, interactive and educational programming.

There’s no doubt screen time is extremely useful for harried, overworked parents who just need a half-hour to make dinner or simply steal away for a little down time. But the issue is, kids using screens routinely.

In the Shuswap, there’s a great annual reminder of ways to get out and enjoy some screen-less fun with your favourite young people.

Unplug and Play, the Literacy of Alliance of the Shuswap Society’s (LASS) Family Literacy Week, is coming up from Jan. 20 to 27.

It starts with ‘Jam the GM’ on Friday, Jan. 19, the kick-off to the children’s book drive at the Sicamous Health Centre, the arena and the resource centre. Free events throughout the week include Bring a Book to Work all week, many activities in Shuswap libraries, Unplug & Play Family Swim at the Salmon Arm rec centre from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Winter Fun Play in the Park in Sorrento’s Blind Bay Park on Monday from 4 to 5:30 p.m., Skating and Books with the ‘Backs at the Shaw Centre from 2:45 to 4:15 p.m. – and much more.

You can find full details of the many free events at shuswapliteracy.ca or see page 17 of the Jan. 19 edition of the Shuswap Market News.

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