How many hours do you spend looking at screens?
What kind of things are you doing when you’re using them?
UBC Okanagan researchers worked with Central Okanagan Public Schools, students, and parents to learn how kids in grades 5–7 spend their day. This info helps us understand how our choices impact our well-being.
Screen time and device use is a big concern for everyone, not just kids. Our electronic devices are so new to the human mind and body that we don’t know yet how using them may affect us.
Unfortunately, a lot of the research we have on screen time doesn’t really cover the way kids use devices today. Screens are a really important part of learning, relaxing, and socializing. As kids get older, they tend to use phones and tablets more and more to stay connected with friends and the world.
Not all screen use is bad, but for some kids, it can increase feelings of depression and anxiety. Screen use has also been linked to reduced imagination — which is much more than daydreaming about what a hippopotamus would look like with a neck the length of a giraffe. Creativity and imagination are how people come up with new ideas, solutions to problems, and inventions.
How much time do kids in
Kelowna spend on screens?
Elementary school kids spend an average of 2.7 hours using screens per day during the week. This rises to 4,4 hours per day on weekends.
Middle schoolers spend much more time using screens, averaging 4.3 hours per weekday. On the weekend, screen use increases to 6 hours per day.
What kind of screen time are Kelowna kids using?
The type of screens kids use changes as they get older and are different depending on gender.
Video gaming is the screen time that boys spend the most time with during the week and time spent gaming increases as boys move from elementary to middle school.
During the weekday, video games account for just over an hour a day of screen use for elementary boys. In middle school, it increases to two hours per day.
Video game use increases a lot on the weekends; Elementary-aged boys spend nearly two hours per day playing video games and middle school boys spend 2.5 hours gaming.
Girls in Kelowna spend around one hour per day gaming during the week and just over an hour on the weekend. Those numbers are about the same, regardless of age.
Elementary-aged girls and boys spend just under an hour per day on mobile devices during the week.
But mobile screen use increases a lot once kids get to middle school. Girls spend just over 2.5 hours per day on phones or tablets during the week and on the weekend. Middle school boys also spend more time on mobile screens; about 2 hours per day during the week and nearly 2.5 hours per day on the weekends.
How much screen time is too much?
Sometimes you have to do homework or classwork on a computer, and that technically counts as part of your average screen time. Watch a couple of shows or YouTube videos, play some games, and it doesn’t take long to rack up hours!
Older generations passed notes in class or spent hours talking on the phone to their friends after school. For kids like you, social media, texting, group chats, and video games are how you hang out and stay connected. This is a good thing, a lot of the time!
We don’t really know how much screen time is too much because it really depends on what you’re doing, how you feel, and if you’re moving around enough during the day. In Canada, the recommendation is to spend less than 2 hours per day using screens. But screens are such a big part of our lives now that kids have been spending about 3 to 5 hours a day on them for the last 10 years.
What does all this mean?
The important thing is to think about what you are using your screen time for and how it makes you feel. Try to avoid sitting around for too long and make sure to do some things “offline” from time to time to give your brain something new to do.
Try to use your screen time to learn something new, get inspired, and stay connected with friends who help you feel good about yourself and life.