Active Screen Use

Technology and screens are all around us. Because of this, we need to find a way for children to engage with screens in a positive way, so they benefit their health and overall development. To do this, it is important to understand that we consume screens in different ways; either in an active or passive way.

Passive screen use is where we just consume the content being shown to us. When engaged in passive screen use people often show the ‘zombie’ traits. These are things like a glazed over look, being inattentive to the world around and an open mouth.

In contrast, active screen use is where a person is cognitively or physically engaged with the content. Physically, this can be through activities such as a dance game, following a yoga routine or playing a virtual sports event. Being cognitively engaged may look like answering questions posed by the on-screen character or person, completing the words to a song, conversing with you or their sibling about an activity that is taking place or solving puzzles posed by the program.

The last few years have seen an explosion in engaging content for physical activity across many forms of screen use. Phone apps that tell stories while walking, video channels for yoga, workouts and play ideas are more popular than ever and even some playgrounds now feature augmented reality components that can be viewed on a phone. 

If you allow your child to use screens, monitor use and try to prioritize active screen use.  It is important to take time to find content that keeps the children engaged and moving. When children do not find the content engaging, they will often stop moving. When the content is keeping the child’s attention, they may ask for another video or to keep playing.

It is important to note that while engaging in active screen use can have positive benefits, this time should still be used in moderation. Activity without using screens is still highly recommended. Games, stretches, workouts and dance moves learned using screens can also be played without a screen.

You can find a number of active screen time recommendations in our Physically Active Screen Time post.