Before we became parents, we told ourselves that we were going to do everything right. The kid was only going to eat healthy food, we wouldn’t resort to bribery with candy and treats, and we would never use a tablet as a digital babysitter so we could finally eat lunch in peace at a restaurant. But things change when you have a little one of your own. Your patience runs thin. And you give in to their screen time demands.

Of course, we know that we shouldn’t do that and we can’t help but to feel bad about it. And now the powers that be have once again re-asserted to us that we are clearly being terrible parents.

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) has released a new set of guidelines that are based on scientific evidence for how kids under four should be behaving. We’re told, for example, that preschoolers aged 3 and 4 should have no more than one hour of sedentary screen time each day. Feel bad yet?

If you’re among the parents who give in to more than a couple episodes of PAW Patrol each day, you can at least take solace in knowing that you are not alone, because apparently 76% of preschoolers have more than an hour of sedentary screen time per day. That includes watching TV, playing on the tablet, or crushing candy on mommy and daddy’s phones.

It may or may not surprise you that just 13% of preschoolers in Canada are actually meeting these new guidelines. They recommend the following for toddlers (1-2 years old) and preschoolers (3-4 years old):

  • MOVE: At least 180 minutes spent in a variety of physical activities at any intensity spread throughout the day, but more is better. Include energetic play for both age groups, with preschoolers getting at least 60 minutes of it.
  • SLEEP: 11-14 hours of good-quality sleep for toddlers, and 10-13 for preschoolers, which may include naps, with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times.
  • SIT: Not being restrained for more than one hour at a time (e.g. in a stroller) or sitting for extended periods. When sedentary, engaging in pursuits such as reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged. Sedentary screen time for those younger than two years old is not recommended, and no more than one hour for those aged 2-4, but less is better.

I guess we’re not doing too bad if we’re typically able to hit two out of three. That’s a passing grade, right? You can probably guess which of the three we’re not quite following. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a three-year-old demanding we watch Super Monsters for the 486th time.

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