A study conducted in 2008 by scientists at the Division of Epidemiology at Ohio State University, the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, and the Department of Public Health and Family Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine indicated that 37.3 % of American children between the ages of four and 11 years had low levels of active play, that 65% had excessively high screen time, and that 26.3% exhibited both of these behaviors. This study also indicated that the rising levels of childhood obesity could be combated by public health programs and initiatives aimed at reducing screen time while boosting active play. In today’s switched-on, always connected world, it can be difficult to determine the best way to control the amount of time your child spends with electronic entertainment devices. These 10 tips, however, can help you get your kids’ screen time under control.
- Screen Time is a Privilege – The first step to managing the amount of time that your kids spend in front of an electronic screen is to establish the concept that screen time is a privilege, rather than a right. Kids should understand that they’re allowed to watch television, surf the Internet and play video games only after their other responsibilities have been fulfilled.
- Encourage Hobbies – When children are actively involved in a hobby that doesn’t require an electronic screen, they’re less likely to complain of boredom and beg for additional gaming or television time. Make an effort to figure out where your child’s interest lie and how he can best pursue them.
- Get Kids Involved in Extracurricular Activities – Extracurricular activities have the double-whammy effect of getting kids away from their electronic devices and encouraging the physical activity their bodies need.
- Tie Phone Upgrades to Academic Performance – As kids get older they’re more likely to be concerned with how new and feature-packed their phones are in comparison to those that their friends own. Establishing a phone upgrade policy that relies upon good academic performance and a balance of screen time and physical activity gives kids an incentive to make the right choices.
- Use a Chart – Placing a screen time-tracking chart somewhere within your home can help your child understand how much time he’s allowed to spend with electronic entertainment, and can reduce the bargaining, pleading and sulking that can accompany the end of his daily allotment.
- Establish Family Time – A family night spent playing board games or participating in other group activities will not only distract kids from the television for the evening, but can also help to strengthen bonds, keep lines of communication open, and foster an environment of affection.
- Make Kids’ Rooms a Media-Free Zone – Keeping televisions, computers and gaming devices out of kids’ rooms will eliminate the distraction that these items can present during those times when kids are supposed to be sleeping or doing homework. When electronics are in a high-traffic area of the home, it’s also easier for you to keep up with how much time is being spent on them and what sort of content kids are accessing.
- Explain the Importance of Physical Activity – Kids often respond better to boundaries when they understand why they’re in place than they do when rules are enforced without an explanation as to why. In addition, talking to your kids about the importance of being physically fit and active will help them establish the habits they’ll need to maintain their health as they get older.
- Encourage Imaginative Play – When you purchase toys for gift-giving occasions, look for those that promote imaginative and active play, rather than passive enjoyment. Tailor these purchases to your kids’ existing interests and they could very well eschew electronic entertainment in favor of these toys without any prodding or cajoling.
- Put Technology to Work for You – Encourage kids to spend the screen time they do have playing physically active games on the Wii or Xbox 360 Kinect, and use your DVR to pre-record favored television shows. Pre-recorded shows will allow you to view them first, and also to skip commercials that encourage materialism and are directed solely at impressionable kids, while active games satisfy kids’ hunger for video games while keeping them moving.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that, as of 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight. They’ve also reported that these kids are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and pre-diabetes. While controlling and monitoring your kids’ screen time can feel like an uphill battle, it’s a vitally important responsibility of the modern American parent.Taken From National Nannies