The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that screen time for kids should be limited to one or two hours a day. When we say screen time we mean television, movies, computers games, and web-browsing. Children who watch more than two hours of TV a day are more likely to be overweight and often suffer from irregular sleep patterns. So let’s give our children the best chance for health.
Out-of-School Time Settings
Afterschool programs, community centers, summer camps, and faith based organizations are all considered out-of-school time settings. These settings can reinforce healthy habits and active lifestyles by providing structured free time in which young people can incorporate physical activity in the places they are empowered to learn, play, and create.
The staff, programs, and environments that make up these settings can play a role in decreasing the amount of screen time youth get while increasing their daily movement.
Create a Viewing Calendar
Choose your favorite television shows and mark them on the calendar. Turn on the TV just for those shows and turn it off afterwards. The dangerous thing about TV shows is that they don’t stop. We can just keep watching and just keep sitting for as long as we want. Make sure that you and your family are only watching the television shows that you want to watch, the ones you scheduled on the calendar, and not just any show that comes on.
Not a Punishment, Not a Reward
Screen time can be an enjoyable experience, but it shouldn’t be played up as more than that. By using screen time as a reward for good behavior or a punishment for bad behavior, we make it seem more important. Make screen time a “non-event” in your home. Instead, use recognition and encouragement for physical activity and healthy eating with your kids.
Afterschool Action Plan
Watching TV is the #1 afterschool activity for most kids.
Kids usually watch television when they have nothing to do, and they usually have nothing to do because they haven’t thought about what they could do. Help your family come up with after-work and afterschool activities that you can do any time you can’t think of anything to do but watch TV. Create a top 10 list of activities like bike riding, shooting hoops, walking the dog, and post this list in a place where everyone can see it.
No TV Dinners
Watching TV while eating dinner makes it easier to continue sitting and watching TV after you’ve finished with your meal. Use mealtime as a time when you take turns talking about your day or even planning what activity you will do as a family when you are done eating.
Cut the Cord in the Bedroom
Take the TVs and computers out of your kids’ bedrooms. Children who have TVs in their room spend almost one and a half hours more each day watching them than their peers. Plus, if your kids are in their rooms watching TV, they’re removed from family time.