Reduce Screen Time and Get Active
Parents and caregivers should set rules that reduce “screen time” by limiting the amount of time children spend on the computer, watching TV and playing video games. The time spent in front of the screen could be better spent being more physically active.
Talk to Your Family
Explain to children that it’s important to sit less and move more in order to stay healthy. Health experts suggest no more than two hours of computer or television time per day unless it’s related to work or homework. Children younger than two should be kept away from the TV entirely. Don’t use TV time as reward or punishment; practices like this make TV seem even more important to children.
Set Screen Time Limits and a Good Example
Create a house rule that limits screen time to one to two hours every day. More importantly, enforce the rule.
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, they’re more likely to do the same.
Log Screen Time vs. Active Time
To get a sense of what changes may need to be made in your household, track your family’s screen time and active time. First, log how much time your family spends in front of a screen, including things like watching TV and movies, playing video games and using the computer (outside of school or work). Then, look at how much time the family spends doing physical activities, such as walking, doing active chores or playing sports together. If you see that your family logs more hours in front of the screen than being active, sit down together and set goals to increase your physical activity.
Be Active During Screen Time
When you spend time in front of the screen, do something active. Stretch, practice yoga poses, walk on a treadmill, or lift weights. Challenge the family to see who can do the most push-ups or jumping jacks during commercial breaks.
Understand TV Ads
Seeing snack foods, candy, soda and fast food on television affects all of us-especially children. Help children understand that just because it’s on TV-or their favorite TV characters eat or drink it-doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
Create Screen-free Bedrooms
Don’t put a TV or computer in your child’s bedroom. Kids who have TVs in their rooms tend to watch about 1.5 hours more of TV per day than those who don’t. In addition, having a TV in their bedroom can keep kids from spending time with the rest of the family.
Watching TV can become a habit, making it easy to forget what else is out there. Give children ideas and alternatives, like playing outside, picking up a new hobby or learning a sport. See more tips for being an Active Family.
Focus on Family Time During Meals
Family meals are a great time to talk to each other. So, turn off the TV during meals. Better yet, if you have a TV in your eating area, remove it.
Research shows that families who eat together tend to eat more nutritious meals. Make eating together a priority and try to have family meals at least two to three times a week. Begin with breakfast–it’s a great way to start the day.