Controlling children’s behaviour with screen time leads to more screen time

Giving kids extra time on the iPad for good behaviour may not be the best idea.

University of Guelph researchers found that children whose parents dole out screen time as a reward or revoke it as punishment spend more time on a smartphone, tablet or computer or in front of the television than children whose parents don’t.

When you give food as a reward, it makes children like the carrot less and the cake more. Same thing with screen time, says U of G researcher Lisa Tang.

Currently only 15 per cent of Canadian preschoolers meet the Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines of less than one hour of recreational screen time per day. Children under two years of age should not have any.

The study found a majority of parents reported using screen time as a way to control behaviour, especially on weekends.

Sedentary activity is associated with a greater risk of obesity as well as poorer academic and social skills later in life, says Tang.