It’s easier to fall asleep while watching TV when it is in your bedroom, which may sound like a good thing, but this can actually disrupt sleep patterns and cause fatigue. It’s a bad habit and contributes to the high amount of screen time we already subject ourselves to on a daily basis.
Did you know that the average person in the U.S. watches more than 36 hours of TV a week? Very young children (2 to 5 year olds) watch 25 hours of TV a week while older youth (8 to 18 years) watch about 4½ hours of TV a day! Almost 3 in 4 (71%) of 8 to 18 year olds have a TV in their bedroom.
Can all this screen time be good for us? Too much screen time, which includes watching TV, playing video games or using the computer, means we are spending less time being active. When we watch TV we see many ads for foods high in fat and sugar which may influence our food choices, especially for young children. And, as stated above, watching TV at night to fall asleep actually causes sleep disruptions.
So what’s a family to do? Here are some tips to help you ‘play more, watch less:’
►Use the upcoming National Screen-Free Week, April 29 – May 5, 2013, as a way to start changing your family’s screen habits. 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 and start making them part of your regular routine.
►Turn the TV off during family meals and talk about everyone’s day. Keep the TV off when no one is watching. Need some background noise? Turn on the radio.
►Create an activity box and put it by the door. It’s a way to remind everyone to be more active instead of watching TV. Items you can put in the box include jump ropes, balls, athletic shoes, scarves (for throwing in the air indoors).
For more ideas for adults, families and youth, check out the MU Extension publication ‘Play more, Watch Less.’ You can download the PDF by clicking on the link.
Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, firstname.lastname@example.org, 573-882-1933