Family Health Tamar Raucher | 2 years ago

Turn Off the Screen, Turn On the Fun

Children and teens spend nearly 30 hours per week watching television. That’s more than any other activity except sleeping. Yikes.

And that 30 hours doesn’t even include time spent in front of other screens, like cell phones, computers and tablets. It’s true – limiting screen time can be hard. But one way to start changing this habit is to consider all of the other things to do instead of staring at a screen. Here’s a good start:
  • Ride a bike
  • Go on a nature hike
  • Put together a puzzle
  • Turn on the music and dance
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Spend time catching up with your family
  • Take your kids to the park or beach
  • Play board games
  • Walk, run or jog
  • Start a journal
  • Play ball (basketball, catch or soccer)
  • Go to the library
  • Explore gyms in your community
  • Rollerblade
  • Play charades
Next, set some ground rules. To start, establish healthy attitudes toward screens. Using a computer to do research for a history report is a great use of technology. Spending an entire sunny weekend trying to make it to the next level of a video game is a tragic waste of time. Know how much screen time your child is using and set some basic rules: No TV or computer before homework or chores are done. Use a timer to keep track of time. When the bell goes off, so does the TV or computer. For healthy screen time, pediatricians often recommend these tips:
  • No TV or computer in the room where the child sleeps
  • No TV or computer for a child age two or younger
  • One hour of educational TV or computer time between ages two and five
  • After age five, two hours or less of TV or computer
Other suggestions include:
  • Eliminating TV time during the week
  • Don’t turn on the TV during meal time
  • Help your child plan television viewing in advance
  • Keep books, magazines, and board games in the family room
  • Make a list of fun activities to do instead of being in front of a screen
  • Set family guidelines for age-appropriate shows
And parents, it’s time to tame your screen time, too. Set a good example with your own screen viewing habits. Be a role model and follow your own rules. Remember, life is lots more fun when you join in!   Healthy habits are important for the whole family. For a smart game plan to get you there, follow 5-2-1-0. Every day, eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, limit screen time from TVs, video games, smartphones and other devices to 2 hours or less, get at least 1 hour of physical activity, and aim for 0 sugary drinks, drinking water or low-fat milk instead. To learn more about 5-2-1-0, access fun health tips and activities, and pledge to be healthy together with your family, visit CarolinasHealthCare.org/HealthyTogether. Take the pledge and join the 5-2-1-0 League of healthy families in our community!