The Skinny on Cutting Screen Time
If some kids had their way, they might be glued to video games, TV or the Internet for days at a time! You can steer children toward different pastimes - with the screens switched off.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of screen time a day.
Many kids are getting way more than that.
With children generally spending roughly 38 hours a week in front of a screen, it's challenging for them to balance homework, family time and exercise into the daily routine. (And it's no surprise that two-thirds of children aged 8 to 18 have TV sets in their bedrooms, while half have video game consoles there.)
So, what's the big deal?
A healthy life is about balance.
You can help your kids find it. Talk to them about limiting their use of video games, TV and the Internet so they have time for other pursuits.
Health is a real concern.
The Surgeon General says that 17 percent of people aged 2 to 19 are overweight. Extra pounds can put kids at greater risk for health problems, including high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Set rules for digital media use in your home.
Creating a customized Get Game Smart PACT is a terrific - and quick - way to start the conversation with your child and get expectations in writing for future reference.
Once you've decided the limits, make sure your kids stick to them. Use a kitchen timer, a stopwatch, whatever you have handy, to clock usage.
Get moving and get creative.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture jointly recommend that young people be physically active for at least 60 minutes every day.
Encourage your kids to get going. That doesn't just mean sports. Other interests, such as helping out in the yard or dancing around the house, count.
Some ideas from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Take walks together.
- Go for bike rides.
- Ask your children to teach you their favorite outdoor games and show them the activities you enjoyed as a kid.
- Plan outings with other families. What about a kickball tournament?
Prioritize family time, too.
The Center for Screen-Time Awareness suggests family game nights. Screens stay off (cell phones, too) in favor of card or board games to get parents and kids having fun together.
Mealtimes can also foster family togetherness. The National Institute on Media and the Family reports that 40 percent of American families watch TV "almost always" during meals. The institute urges families to turn off the TV to enjoy each others company.
How will you limit screen time?