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 time," says 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 for adults.
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.