There are a lot of great ways to help get your kids reduce their time in front of the television, computer or video games. Here are a few tips:
- Talk to your family. Explain to your kids that it’s important to sit less and move more in order to be healthy. Tell them how they will feel better, have more energy, and help them develop and/or improve skills like riding a bike or shooting hoops.
- Log screen time vs active time. Start tracking how much time your family spends in front of a screen, including things like TV and DVD watching, playing video games, or playing games on a smart phone. Then take a look at how much physical activity your family gets. That way you can get a sense of what changes need to be made.
- Make screen time = active time. When you do spend time in front of a screen, do something active. Stretch, lift weights, or walk in place. Or, challenge the family to see who can do the most push ups, jumping jacks or leg lifts during TV commercial breaks.
- Set screen time limits. Create a house rule that limits screen time to two hours every day. More importantly, enforce the rule.
- Make meal time = family time. Turn off the TV during meal times. Family meals are a great time to talk to each other.
- Provide other options. Watching TV can become a habit, which makes it easy to forget what else is out there to do. Give your kids ideas such as playing outside, getting a new hobby, or learning a sport.
- Don’t use TV time as a reward or punishment. This makes TV seem even more important to children.
Adapted from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. US Department of Health and Human Services.