Too much screen time – watching TV, video games, computer time – contributes to increasing youth obesity. Youth are spending too much time being inactive, which is detrimental to their health. A 2010 Henry J. Kaiser Foundation survey found that children 8-18 years old spent about 7½ hours each day using entertainment media, 4½ hours watching TV, 1½ hours on the computer and more than an hour playing video games. It’s a challenge trying to get our children down to the recommended amount of 2 hours or less a day of screen time, but it's not impossible! Here are some ideas to get started:
- Get together as a family to write a list of things to do other than watching TV or spending time in front of a screen. Post these ideas on the refrigerator. Use National Screen-Free Week, April 30 – May 6, as a time to try out some of these ideas and to figure out how you can make these new options part of your family routine.
- During family meals, turn off the TV and talk about everyone’s day.
- Keep TV off when no one is watching it. Need some background noise? Turn on the radio.
- Create an activity box and put it by the door. The activity box can include jump ropes, balls and everyone’s athletic shoes. This reminds everyone to be active. Make active time family time – walk to the park, bike together or visit your local farmers’ market.
Looking for more ideas? See the MU Extension publication, Play More, Watch Less.
Visit MissouriFamilies.org for more information about making healthy food choices.
Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, firstname.lastname@example.org, 573-882-1933