HealthWorks! Healthy Living Series: Screen Time
by The Center for Better Health and Nutrition/HealthWorks! at Cincinnati Children’s
Christopher Kist, Exercise Program Director: “What is screen time? TV, video games, tablets, phones and YouTube. Basically, any sedentary activity in front of a screen of some kind.
Eight- to 18-year-olds consume an average of seven hours and 11 minutes of screen time per day — an increase of 2.5 hours in just 10 years.
Adolescents have had an increase of 116 percent since 1995.
I get it. We live in a digital age, and our kids need to be media and tech savvy. However, adolescents already spend most of their day sitting at school behind a desk. So it’s very important that they don’t spend their after-school time sitting as well.
When you sit, you use less energy than you do when you stand or move. Research has linked sitting for prolonged periods of time with many health concerns, including an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Excessive amounts of screen time have been linked to psychological difficulties including hyperactivity, emotional and conduct problems, along with difficulty with peers.
So how much screen time is too much?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and others recommend one hour per day for children between the ages of 2 and 5, and less than two hours per day for older adolescents. They also recommend removing the TV from the child’s bedroom. Bedroom televisions are associated with obesity risk in children of all ages.
Adolescents with a television in their bedroom spend more time watching TV, report less physical activity, worse dietary habits, poor school performance and fewer family meals.
Experts agree the use of screens before bed can negatively impact sleep quality as well by overstimulating the brain.
Screen time can be very difficult to limit at home, but guidelines or limitations need to be put in place. Try to designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms, dining rooms, etc.
Encourage your kids to take activity breaks every 30 to 60 minutes and incorporate tech-free afternoons at home.
If you’re concerned about heavy media use, consider creating a schedule that works for your family. This can include weekly screen time limits, limits on the kind of screens kids can use and guidelines on the programs they can watch or the amount of games they can play.
Try to encourage or plan physical activity as a family to help get everyone out of the house to limit screen time.
Whatever changes you decide to make at home, realize that screen time restrictions may vary depending on a child’s current usage and interest. It may just mean limiting video game time on weekends or after school for some kids. However, parents should be doing what they can to ensure that what they’re watching and playing is high-quality, age appropriate and not to excessive.”
The funding for these videos was in part provided by Master Han and the Han’s White Tiger Tae Kwon Do Annual Break-A-Thon. Thank you!