June 4, 2019 5:40 pm

Calgary Jewish Community Centre promotes ‘unplugged kids’ programs to cut down on screen time

WATCH ABOVE: Trying to get kids off their screens and doing something active can be quite a challenge. Some Calgarians are coming together to promote programs for “unplugged kids.” Gil Tucker has the story.


Whether it’s playing ball tag or running an obstacle race, kids in the preschool class at the Calgary Jewish Community Centre can’t get enough of the outdoor fun with their friends.

“Because you get lots of energy and exercise,” four-year-old William said.

And the woman in charge of the group gets them outside and involved in organized activities as often as she can.

READ MORE: Canadian kids among least active in the world: ParticipAction study

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“If they’re active, that’s going to give them success in connecting with somebody,” preschool teacher Dianne Struthers said.

But getting children interested in those activities isn’t always easy.

“All my friends just play video games,” five-year-old Zachary said.

That’s a situation one of the preschool parents is all too familiar with.

“I have an eight-year-old boy who is really deeply interested in games,” Nina Blair said. “If you let him, he would [keep playing] for 20 hours!”

READ MORE: Can a ‘strange’ event help fight inaction, screen addiction in kids?

The Jewish Community Centre will be promoting efforts to cut down on screen time at its annual Sports Dinner on Thursday, June 13.

Featuring a Q & A with Calgary Flames legend Jarome Iginla, the event raises money to help keep seniors active and to provide programs to promote “unplugged kids,” an effort to cut down on excessive screen time.

“I have been concerned for a while,” Struthers said. “The research has shown that watching a screen actually affects the development of [a child’s] brain. And I think that screens are changing the way children socialize. They don’t know how to communicate with each other.”

READ MORE: Tips for getting your kids to embrace outdoor play

Many parents think it’s worth the effort to reduce screen time, so their kids don’t miss out on other things.

“Sun, fresh air, playing with friends, exploring,” Blair said. “All of that [gets pushed aside] because they just sit and watch the screen.”

And a lot of the children in the centre’s preschool class are eager to spread the word on the joys of staying active.

“Because you can exercise,” five-year-old Noah said. “And have fun!”

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