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Reducing Your Child's Screen Time: Eight Simple Ways

Boy playing on computerReducing your child's screen time in front of televisions and computers is one of the easiest ways to improve your family's health.  Here are  eight simple ways to limit screen time to help crank up your kids' energy, re-charge their minds, and improve their health:

  1. Check Yourself: Do you know how much screen time you and your children are getting? Keep track and set limits for the entire family. You'll be amazed how much extra time you "find" when you click off the television or computer.

  2. Play It Down: Using screen time to reward or punish a child makes it seem more important than it is. Use praise, encouragement and recognition for physical activity, and make screen time a "non-event" in your home. 

  3. Double Time: When watching television at home, do jumping jacks, pushups, or crunches during commercial breaks. Set up a stationary bike in the television room, and encourage kids to pedal through their favorite shows.

  4. After-School Action Plan: Many kids list watching television as their number one after-school activity. Sometimes, they just need help coming up with other things to do. Have your kids make a "Top 10" list of after-school activities. Just a few examples include riding bikes, shooting hoops, walking the dog, folding laundry or even helping with dinner. Post the list on the fridge, so your kids can check it when they get home.

  5. No TV Dinners: Turn off the television during mealtime- and take turns talking about the day.

  6. Cut the Cord: Take the televisions and computers out of your kids' bedrooms. Children who have televisions in their rooms spend almost 1.5 hours more each day watching them than their peers. Plus, if your kids are in their rooms watching television, they're removed from family time.

  7. Watch at Once: If you have a VCR or DVR, you can choose a few of your kids' favorite shows, record them, and then let them watch them all at once. That way, you'll have more time during the rest of the week for activities.

  8. Work It Out: Use the television to watch an exercise video- whether it's dancing, tae kwon do or yoga. Put on your sweatbands and have some family fitness time.

Source: The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a partnership of the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation

Created June 11, 2010