L imit kids TV, computer and video game time and push books and music! The next installment in how to teach your kids to LIVE HEA”L”THY.
Let’s face it..we all know that kids spend way to much time in front of the TV, or playing with the computer and video games. Hey, my 3-year-old is sitting here next to me watching cartoons as I write-up this article! For me it seems to be a constant “battle” trying to keep my children’s screen time balanced with reading books, listening to music and outdoor time. For me, too much screen time takes away from them relaxing without electronic stimulation and having time to be creative, imaginative and play.
Studies have pointed out why is it important for kids not to spend too much time in front of screens. For toddlers, television can interfere with social and mental development. For kids over 2 years old, too much screen time can lead to obesity, potentially aggressive behavior and early introduction to risky behaviors such as smoking and drinking. This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television time for children under 2 years of age and only 1-2 hours of quality television programming for children over 2 years old. See this webpage for some good further information on screen time in children.
How to get your children away from the TV, computer and video games and moving toward books, music and creative play?
START EARLY!!! Personally, I think it is easy to get trapped into the screen habits…I know I feel guilty sometimes because I have used the television or a DVD as an electronic babysitter. I have tried to start early with my kids, when they were babies, to read to them everyday, to expose them to music and playing outside. These habits stay with them, just as the habit of watching too much television is hard to break. Now I have preadolescent children at home (!) and they are also interested in the video games and computers…I encourage them to balance these toys with other activities. With my son I ask him to read a book or do creative play as much as he plays on his Playstation…A friend has a “no screen time between 10 am-5 pm” rule at home which I think is a great idea. And I think sometimes, it just takes turning off the TV and saying to your kids “let’s go outside and play together!” And you readers, how do you control your kids screen time? Do you feel it is important? I would love to hear from you…