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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tips to help reduce screen time for your kids

Screentime is the time spent in front of a screen. Anything that has a screen counts towards screentime, like televisions, computers, video games, and even cell phones. The more time that is spent in front of a screen, the less time is spent moving. Time spent watching TV takes time away from reading, playing and being active. Watching a lot fo TV can be bad for children's health and can effect the children's weight.

 The researchers found that children who spent the least amount of time watching television, using the computer, and playing video games had much lower blood pressure levels than those who spent the most time in front of a screen. There are more bad effects of spending more time in front of screen.

Preschoolers with TVs in their bedroom watch an additional 4.8 hours of TV or videos every week.
1 in 4 children under the age of 2 years has a TV in their bedroom.

According to 'The Kaiser Family Foundation':

"American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV."
Tips to Reduce Screen Time
  • Talk to Your Family: Explain to your kids that it's important to sit less and move more in order to stay at a healthy weight. Tell them they’ll also have more energy, and it will help them develop and/or perfect new skills, such as riding a bike or shooting hoops, that could lead to more fun with friends. Tell them you’ll do the same.
  • Set a Good Example: You need to be a good role model and limit your screen time to no more than two hours per day, too. If your kids see you following your own rules, then they’ll be more likely to do the same.
  • Log Screen Time vs. Active Time: Start tracking how much time your family spends in front of a screen, including things like TV- and DVD-watching, playing video games, and using the computer for something other than school or work. Then take a look at how much physical activity they get. That way you’ll get a sense of what changes need to be made. Use the Children's Screen Time Log (230 KB) to do it.
  • Make Screen Time = Active Time: When you do spend time in front of the screen, do something active. Stretch, do yoga and/or lift weights. Or, challenge the family to see who can do the most push-ups, jumping jacks, or leg lifts during TV commercial breaks.  
  • Set Screen Time Limits: Create a house rule that limits screen time to two hours every day. More importantly, enforce the rule.  
  • Create Screen-free Bedrooms: Don’t put a TV or computer in your child's bedroom. Kids who have TVs in their room tend to watch about 1.5 hours more TV a day than those that don’t. Plus, it keeps them in their room instead of spending time with the rest of the family.  
  • Make Meal Time = Family Time: Turn off the TV during meals. Better yet, remove the TV from the eating area if you have one there. Family meals are a good time to talk to each other. Research shows that families who eat together tend to eat more nutritious meals. Make eating together a priority and schedule family meals at least two to three times a week.  
  • Provide Other Options: Watching TV can become a habit, making it easy to forget what else is out there. Give your kids ideas and/or alternatives, such as playing outside, getting a new hobby, or learning a sport. See more tips for getting physically active.
  • Don't Use TV Time as Reward or Punishment: Practices like this make TV seem even more important to children.
  • Understand TV Ads Placements: Seeing snack foods, candy, soda, and fast food on television affects all of us, especially kids. Help your child understand that because it’s on TV—or your favorite TV characters/actors eat or drink it—doesn’t mean a food or drink is good for you. Get your kids to think about why their favorite cartoon character is trying to get them to eat a certain brand of breakfast cereal.
Tips provided by: 'National Heart Lung and Blood Institute'

According to a survey statistics: Children ages 8–18 spend the following amount of time in front of the screen, daily:
  • Approximately 7.5 hours using entertainment media
  • Approximately 4.5 hours watching TV
  • Approximately 1.5 hours on the computer
  • Over an hour playing video games  
These data lie in stark contrast to the 25 minutes per day that children spend reading books.
Today's youth also have the following media in their bedrooms:

More than one–third have a computer, and Internet access
Half have video game players
More than two–thirds have TVs
Those with bedroom TVs spend an hour more in front of the screen than those without TVs
Health experts say screen time at home should be limited to two hours or less a day, unless it’s work- or homework-related. The time we spend in front of the screen could be better spent being more physically active (increasing our ENERGY OUT), and setting a good example for our families.

- Both scary and reassuring. Scary because it makes clear just how little we know about potentially harmful effects of 'tubes' on our brains, but reassuring that someone is finally asking the questions which so desperately need to be answered!"—Jane M. Healy, Ph.D., Educational Psychologist, Author of Endangered Minds and Failure to Connect

- "Well done.... An outstanding investigative movie that begins to present interesting questions about the true nature of television. It presents many compelling facts and questions about an activity that most people take for granted."—www.turnoffyourtv.com

Useful links and resoruces:


* Reviews of :The Tube: A Film by Peter Entell
* Web MD: “Screen Time Boosts Kids’ Blood Pressure”
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