These recommendations and implementation steps are intended to help educators, school administrators, policy makers, parents/guardians, caregivers, physicians and healthcare providers in implementing changes that will improve the health and wellbeing of school-aged children and youth.
Educators, school administrators, policy makers, parents/guardians, caregivers, physicians and healthcare providers all have a role to play in implementing changes in reducing sedentary behaviours, hence improving the health and wellbeing of school-aged children and youth. Please find the detailed recommendations and approaches for implementation below.
Recommendations to manage school-related sedentary behaviour
A healthy school day includes breaking up periods of extended sedentary behaviour with both scheduled and unscheduled movement:
- At least once every 30 minutes for ages 5-11 years.
- At least once every hour for ages 12-18 years.
Incorporating different types of movement into homework whenever possible, and limiting sedentary homework to no more than 10 minutes per day, per grade level.
Regardless of the location, school-related screen time should be meaningful, mentally or physically active, and serve a specific pedagogical purpose that enhances learning compared to alternative methods. When school-related screen time is warranted:
- Limit time on devices, especially for students 5-11 years of age.
- Take a device break at least once every 30 minutes.
- Discourage media-multitasking in the classroom and while doing homework.
- Avoid screen-based homework within an hour of bedtime.
Replacing sedentary learning activities with movement-based learning activities and replacing screen-based learning activities with non-screen-based learning activities, can further support students’ health and wellbeing.
How can these recommendations be implemented?
Educators, school administrators, policymakers, parents/guardians, caregivers, physicians and healthcare providers can implement these recommendations using the four M’s approach:
- Manage sedentary behaviour.
- In the classroom and during homework, include light activities that require movement of any body parts, and moderate to vigorous activities that require greater physical effort.
- Encourage Meaningful screen use.
- Prioritize face-to-face interactions over screen use.
- Use screens when they are the best pedagogical tool for the job and likely to enhance learning.
- Prioritize screens for mental and physical engagement, rather than for passive viewing.
- Turn screens off when not in use, including background TV or videos while doing school or homework.
- Avoid screen use during meal and snack times.
- Avoid using screens as the default method for content delivery or classroom management.
- Encourage students to review and self-regulate their screen use, and plan time for outdoor play and physical activity.
- Educators, healthcare providers, parents and caregivers should Model healthy and meaningful screen use.
- Monitor for signs of problematic screen use and follow-up with a physician or healthcare provider if concerns arise. Signs of problematic screen use can include:
- Complaints about being bored or unhappy without access to technology.
- Difficulty accepting screen time limits.
- Screen use that interferes with school, family activities, sleep, physical activity, offline play, or face-to-face interactions.
- Negative emotions following time spent playing video games, texting or using social media.