Turn Off That Screen!

        Limit Screen Time for your Children

        Children over two years old should spend no more than 1 to 2 hours a day on screen media of any kind. Children under two should not use screen media at all. Excessive exposure of children to screen media is associated with impaired childhood development and childhood obesity.

        Most children watch too much TV and spend too much time in front of screens

        • On average, preschool children spend 32 hours a week with screen media.
        • The average 12-month-old gets between one and two hours of screen time per day.
        • Two-Thirds of infants ‘watch’ a screen an average of 2 hours a day.
        • Preschoolers who watch two hours of television a day are likely to be overweight; weighing 34% more than their piers.
        • By the time they begin kindergarten, children have watched an average of 4,000 hours of TV.
        • Preschool children under 6 don’t know the difference between the 40,000 ads they see on TV a year and the actual show.
        • The more TV preschool children watch, the less likely they will be active and exercise at the age of 10.
        • About 50% of all preschoolers are not taken outside to play each day by their parents.
        • School age children spend 4.5 hours a day watching TV and 7.5 hour a day on all screen media.
        • The average American youth spends more time watching TV than any other activity except sleeping.

        No government policy will make any difference unless we also hold ourselves more accountable as parents—because government, no matter how wise or efficient, cannot turn off the TV or put away the video games. Teachers, no matter how dedicated or effective, cannot make sure your child leaves for school on time and does their homework when they get back at night. These are things only a parent can do. These are things that our parents must do. —President Barack Obama 

        It’s important for children to learn and develop through hands on experiences and exercise, not passive screen time. Here are some ideas you can put into play today to head your family on the right track.

        • Celebrate National Screen-Free Week every April by turning off your TVs, smart phones, ipods, ipads, computers, tablets…
        • Remove the TV set from your child’s bedroom or don’t put one in there to begin with. The easier it is to access, the more it will be used.
        • Never allow children under 2 to ‘watch’ TV.
        • Never have screens on during dinner. The sooner you start family meal time the better off your child will be in middle school, high school and beyond. Dinner time is a great time to establish manners and talk about the day behind us and the days ahead.
        • Limit screen time to no more than 2 hours a day for children over 2.
          • Try a timer.
          • Plan ahead for TV viewing.
          • Agree on certain shows that can be watched and when.
          • Record shows and fast forward through commercials.
          • Don’t allow channel surfing.
          • Offer alternatives:
            • Bike Ride, Jog, Walk, exercise.
            • Play an outdoor game.
            • Play a board game.
            • Read together.
            • Do one of our HomeFUN! activities.
        • Make some days absolute screen free days. Just turn them off and keep them off.
        • Monitor what your children are watching. It may be hard to sit through an entire episode but you should know what they are watching and learning. Children will emulate what they see on the screen. Are they watching behaviors that you want to see them repeat? If not, turn it off.
        • Avoid using screens as baby sitters.
          • Give your children books to ‘read’ or look though.
          • Try read along books.
          • Put on some music.
        • Don’t use TV as a reward or punishment.
        • Cancel your cable/sat subscription and use that money to do something active together.

        The average child spends 1920 minutes per week watching television and only 3.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversations with their parents. Let’s start improving this statistic today.

        (We never use TVs at Halsey Schools and computer time is strictly limited and only available in our Pre-kindergarten classroom as one of our many learning tools.  We always emphasize hands-on learning and personal active interaction.)

        Sources for Statistics: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Institute for Cancer Research, WebMD, & comercialfreechildhood.org


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        About the Author

        Robert Rice

        Robert owns & operates Halsey Schools with his wife Jenni and his parents Richard & Judy Halsey. He and Jenni loved having their two boys (and all their cousins) attend Halsey Schools. Now Christopher & Kevin are in Middle School. They both love to help out around the school. Robert Rice G+ |