Sedentary Behaviour & Screen Time

According to the Active Healthy Kids Canada 2014 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, Canadian children between the ages of 3 and 4 spend 5.8 hours a day being sedentary. This number increases to 7.6 hours a day for the 5- to 11- year-old age bracket.

What is sedentary behaviour?

Sedentary behaviour consists of activities that take place during waking hours that require little movement. Some examples of sedentary behaviours include:

  • sitting for prolonged periods of time
  • watching television
  • playing with electronic devices (e.g. tablets, telephones, computers, etc.) or playing video games
  • using motorized modes of transportation which require sitting for extended periods of time

Screen time

The Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend that children under 2 years of age not be exposed to screens (television, computer, tablet, telephone, etc.) and that children between the ages of 2 and 4 should limit screen time to less than one hour per day, with a maximum of two hours per day for 5- to 11- year-old children.

Alternatives to screen time

  • Set limits on the amount of time allowed in front of the screen with your children
  • Take up ParticipACTION’s “Unplug & Play” challenge by substituting 30 minutes of daily screen time for 30 minutes of physical activity
  • Turn off screens during meals and homework time
  • Be a role model for your child(ren) by reducing your own screen time and getting more active
  • Plan active family activities (e.g. geocaching, a day in the park, a bike ride, a family basketball game, a trip to the local community pool, etc.). If you find it difficult to get the whole family together all at once, try setting aside and scheduling in time into your schedules well in advance.
  • For more ideas, consult ParticipACTION’s webpage:

To check out more on the Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines visit: or to read more about the Active Healthy Kids Canada 2014 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth follow:




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