Today’s technology has made it easier than ever to learn and gather new information. It also helps connect us with our out-of-town friends and family. Many children today are introduced to screen time (watching TV, playing video games, using a computer, etc.) at a young age, but it’s important to be mindful of the potential negative effects of screen time. For example, more screen time is associated with weight gain and poor sleep habits (1).
While electronics can provide connection and education to children, it’s important to take breaks from sitting and staring at screens. Screen time breaks are also simple opportunities for children to get more physical activity in their day!
- Have children rest their eyes according to the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, shift eyes to focus on an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
- Looking at screens can cause neck, shoulder, and back pain. Make sure children take regular stretch breaks to prevent soreness and long-term problems. Show your children how to do these simple stretches!
- Exercises such as push-ups, tricep dips, sit-ups are great exercises your children (and you!) can do at home with no equipment during screen time breaks. For even more ideas, visit https://sampson.ces.ncsu.edu/2009/02/tips-for-exercising-at-home/.
- Outdoor air can be very refreshing after spending time inside watching TV! When the weather is nice, children can go outside and participate in activities like catch, walking, and bike riding.
Daily physical activity is critical for children’s health, but other activities can also help reduce their screen time and contribute to their development. Encourage your children to participate in activities such as reading, arts & crafts, and cooking. Visit our healthy recipes blog for yummy recipes you can prepare with your children!
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under 18 months avoid screen time altogether (other than video calling) and that 2-5 year olds limit screen time to no more than 1 hour per day (2). While setting screen time limits may be helpful for your family, focusing on getting enough exercise and sleep can naturally reduce the amount of time your family uses electronics everyday. To help keep your family on track with sleep, exercise, and other activities and avoid excessive screen time, visit the following link and try the AAP Family Media Plan and the Media Time Calculator: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/media/Pages/default.aspx.
Share how you and your family take screen time breaks!