April Showers Bring… Bored Children and Too Much Screen Time

By Brittany Lightsey, MS, RD, LD

You know the scenario all too well. It’s raining outside, and your children cannot go out to play, so they are stuck in front of a screen. The result? Too much screen time.

Screen time includes any amount of time your child spends before a TV, phone, computer, tablet or video game. Children today spend an average of 7 hours per day on entertainment media.

The downside?

  • Children are more likely to be overweight or obese. For each additional hour of television watched, children consume an average of 18.5 grams of fat or 167 calories.
  • Time spent on a screen competes with time spent being physically active.
  • Screen time is associated with problems in school, trouble sleeping, and eating disorders.

 

How much screen time is recommended?

While the American Academy of Pediatrics previously discouraged screen time for children under age 2 and limiting screen time to 2 hours per day for those over age 2, we now know to approach screen time a little differently instead of just saying “turn it off.”

 

Parents should remember to:

  • Role model.
  • Communicate with your child to foster language development. Engage in media time together.
  • Monitor media content and apps.
  • Encourage active play.
  • Set limits. Think 30 for 30. 30 minutes of TV time means 30 minutes of outside time.
  • Create tech-free zones. Turn screens off at mealtimes and eat at the table. Keep TVs out of bedrooms and re-charge devices overnight outside the bedroom.

 

Where to start?

  1. Keep a one-week screen-time log.

Write down how much time is spent before a screen (and what type). Include any snacks or meals that were consumed during that time.

  1. Make a list of activities to do that do not involve a screen.
  2. Choose active screen time. Turn on a YouTube music video and dance. Try games that help you break into a sweat, like Wii Fit.

Try this Strong4Life Tip

Create “Tech-Free Tuesday” or “Screen-Free Sunday” and turn screens off for the day. Plan something fun and active the whole family will enjoy.

 

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