Screen time is a big part of our family fitness goals. Our kids have access to iPods, iPads, computers, televisions, an X-box and a Wii in our household. They would be in front of media in some form or another all day everyday if we let them. Part of teaching kids healthy lifestyle skills is limiting screen time and encouraging family fitness.
The Kaiser Family Foundation Study estimates that kids between the ages of 8 and 18 have an average of 45 hours of screen time per week. Studies are showing that kids who have higher than 2 hours per day have higher incidences of:
We have implemented several screen time habits in our home that help us limit our time on computers, games, texting and the television.
Our Tips For Limiting Screen Time
- Have your kids pick their favorite television shows in advance for the week. Turn on the TV for those programs only.
- Cut back on your own media use as an example to your kids.
- Participate in screen time together. Play an active video game together, take part in a video game competition with your kids, or relax with the kids for their favorite show.
- Limit screen time, whether it be on the computer, gaming devices or television to a specific number of hours per day or per week. Our kids get 1-2 hours per day.
- Get rid of cable. You probably won’t miss it very much. We thought we would miss ours but don’t miss it at all.
- Keep Media Free bedrooms. No computers, tablets, or televisions. We do let our kids have their iPods plugged into their clock radios so they can listen to soft music before they go to sleep. Monitoring is important.
- Turn the television off during meal time. I remember as a child the television being on during meals. Even as a kid I was frustrated with this trend. The family meal is a great time to connect with your kids. They are only with you for a short time, enjoy them and get to know them. Your kids will remember your family meal time, make it a special time and always screen-free.
- Talk with your kids about making good choices in the video games they play, the shows they watch and the music they listen to. If you make good choices yourself it is easier for them to do so too.
- Make some of your screen time active. My daughter learned to do the splits while watching television. She would practice during commercial breaks until she could accomplish her goal. Active video games can also be fun for the entire family.
- Understand the rating systems for video games, movies and music and know what your kids are watching, playing and listening to. You might be surprised.
Our kids need our help. Living a balanced healthy lifestyle is learned. Showing restraint and making good choices is hard in our society today. These too are learned behaviors. Our kids need help learning to manage their time and the influences in their lives. Kids need to have exposure to the many media options available in the world today. Computer technology is going to be a huge part of their lives forever more. These media’s also have a great educational component that can not be denied. However, to maintain a healthy balanced life, practicing family fitness and limiting screen time leads to a happier healthier family life.
Do you think limiting screen time is important? What do you do to limit media use in your family? What family fitness ideas do you have? We would love to know!