Are Your Kids Spending 3–7 Hours Daily On-screen?
How much time do your kids spend in front of the television or computer
monitor? Chances are it's more than you think. The National Institutes
of Health says children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend between 3 and
7.5 hours per day viewing or interacting with on-screen media. Facebook,
YouTube, television shows, video games… it all adds up quickly.
Studies show that too much screen time isn't good for many areas of
children's development. Too much television can reduce language skills,
and studies have shown a link between screen time and symptoms of ADD
(attention deficit disorder). Research also shows links between screen
time and obesity: too much time sitting in front of a monitor lowers the
body's metabolism, which can cause children to gain weight.
"Many parents want to take control of their children's screen
Dr. Heather Winesett,
St. Luke's Pediatric Associates. "But it's hard when you can read books on a tablet, play games
or write papers on a computer, or do research on a smartphone. Screen
time is very integrated into all aspects of our culture."
With some creative thinking, there's a lot parents can do to get physical
activity back into their children's day. "It's important
to be age-appropriate," says Dr. Winesett. "For example, the
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than two
should have no screen time. Between
age two and teens, screen time should be limited to two hours a day," also the amount recommended
Here are some strategies to help your family get a move on:
Plan screen-free time. Choose times during the week, like the hour after dinner, when all screens
are turned off. Use the time for family game night, baking, reading books,
playing hide and seek, or having a family talent show.
Be a good role model. If you tell the kids to stay away from the screen, you need to do it too.
Go for a walk with your kids, do a craft project or play with the dog together.
Let the kids plan the time. Assign each family member a time to choose or plan an activity. It's
a great way to connect with your kids and learn what interests them.
On-the-go activities. Plan activities around your neighborhood or town. Take a walk and look
for the oldest house or the biggest tree in your neighborhood. Visit a
park you've never been to, go to the library, go to a free museum
or see a play at a local school.
Getting away from the screen can be fun for everyone in your family. It's
important to get your kids involved, so they can help take charge of their
own health and well-being. If you have questions or concerns about your
child's health, talk to your doctor or call St. Luke's Pediatric
Associates at 218.249.7870.