Health unit encourages families to Power Off and Play!

Less screen time -Hastings-Prince Edward Public Health is urging families to limit young people’s recreational time spent using electronic devices and encourage active play. (Adam Bramburger/Gazette staff)

Hastings-Prince Edward Public Health is looking to get local families to spend more time away from their electronic devices.

On Monday, the health unit introduced the new Power Off and Play! campaign as part of the $1.125-million Healthy Kids Community Challenge across Ontario.

Project manager Emily Bray explained that with all the recent advances in technology, it’s even more difficult to encourage youth to leave their screens and incorporate physical activities into their lives. In a news releases, she said the campaign will encourage balance by promoting shutting off devices before sleep, during meals and snack time, and finding fun options for social interaction.

“Power Off and Play! is all about helping families and communities build a balanced day for their children, filled with active play, learning and time spent with family and friends,” Bray said.

To reach those goals, Bray said upcoming Healthy Kids Community Challenge activities will include working with local elementary schools to encourage active and screen-free recess, sponsoring community events, assessing local healthy play environments, and partnering with child care providers to promote active play in young children.

Information shared by Hastings-Prince Edward Public Health suggests too much screen time can negatively impact early development, physical, and psychological health and interfere with important daily routines. The Canadian Society for Exercise and the Canadian Paediatric Society recommend no screen time for children under 2, less than one hour of recreational screen time for children 2-4, and no more than two hours for youth 5-17.