Growth at the speed of life.

Trade Screen Time for Family Time

Research indicates children are getting too much media time and not enough exercise. With summer approaching, be especially aware of the potential for too much time inside in front of a screen.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation national survey, children 8-18 spend an average of 7.5 hours each day in front of a screen for entertainment. Over a year, that adds up to 114 days watching a screen.

Instead of watching TV, playing video games or surfing the web, children could spend more time being physically active. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

The CDC says parents can help their child by:

  • Limiting total screen time to 1-2 hours per day.
  • Removing TV sets from their child’s bedroom.
  • Encouraging other types of fun that include both physical and social activities, like joining a sports team or a club.
  • Ensuring kids have one hour of physical activity each day.


Managing Media Time

Consider spending a week monitoring how much time your child is spending using technology. That will give you an idea of how much time your child is truly spending in front of a screen each week.

There are several ways you can limit use of technology by your children—no matter their age:

  • Establish and enforce rules, such as content restrictions and time limits. Content restrictions may be established for television and the internet by using parental blocks.
  • Keep tablets, computers, TVs and other electronic devices out of your child’s room. This prevents easy access and makes it easier to monitor screen time.
  • Be a good role model. Instead of spending too much time in front of a computer or TV screen or web browsing on your smartphone, set an example by staying active with physical and outdoor activities.


Create a Family Media Plan

When media is used properly and with limits, it can be a positive part of daily life. When not used appropriately, it can replace important things like family time, fitness activities and enough sleep.

Go to healthychildren.org to set up a family media use plan. This American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website offers tools that help you calculate your family’s media time. It will also help you create a family media plan that establishes rules and goals that are in line with your family values.


Find Alternatives to Screen Time

When you limit screen time, you can grow closer as a family. Get away from the screen and get outside for fitness activities.

Here are some ideas to keep your family busy—and away from a screen:

  • Ride your bikes together.
  • Take your dog for a walk.
  • Check out the park or playground.
  • Have family meals.
  • Enjoy a dip in the local swimming pool.
  • Play simple games, such as tag or leapfrog.
  • Read a book together.
  • Visit a nearby zoo, sports center or indoor climbing wall.
  • Play catch, kick a soccer ball around or shoot some baskets.
  • Plan a picnic or go camping in your own backyard.

Find simple tips for improving your family’s health with the Small Starts for Families tool from Healthier Tennessee.

Get more activity ideas from kidcentral tn.


Focus on Safe Screen Time

The internet can be a dangerous place for children. It’s crucial that they learn the skills and develop the judgment to use it safely. Here are some internet safety tips for kids:

  • Don’t give out personal information, such as home address, name of school or phone number.
  • Never send pictures to strangers.
  • Don’t give out passwords to anyone except your parents.
  • Don’t download anything without permission. It may contain a virus that can harm your computer.
  • Tell an adult if you receive a mean or strange message.


Additional Resources

Check out the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 2016 report on the effects of screen time on children 0-5. The report includes recommendations for limiting screen time.

Check out fun activities to try with your kids from kidcentral tn.