Screen time recommendations and health risks
So far, we have mainly focused on promoting physical activity, but we haven’t addressed the other end of the spectrum: “sedentary” activities. Sedentary activities include activities like watching TV, using the computer, or playing with other electronics (videos games or phones). These activities involve sitting or lying down without any extra physical effort. Too much sedentary time can lead to poor health, so it’s important to minimize sedentary time. One way to do that is to reduce the time we spend in front of screens—TV and digital media (video games, computers, smartphones, tablets, etc.). For this reason, this newsletter will primarily focus on reducing “screen time.” But you can also improve your health by applying these tips to any activity where you to sit for long periods of time (more than 2 hours) without getting up.
Screen time recommendation: health experts recommend that children have no more than 2 hours of screen time a day. This is a separate recommendation from the physical activity recommendation of getting at least 60 minutes each day.
What is screen time? For the purposes of this program, we mean the time spent watching television or digital media, such as playing video games, or being on computer, smartphone, or tablet. We also don’t mean time that is involved in homework – we can’t control this and homework is important for school so it doesn’t count in the 2 hours that we’re talking about here.
Why the recommendation?
· When people are in front of a screen, they are usually not being physically active.
· The more time in front of a screen, the fewer calories they are burning through activity.
· People often eat more when they are in front of a screen, which can compound the issue — not only is there very little calorie burn, but there is an increase in calorie intake from the food.
· Being in front of a screen can cause people to eat too much because they may be too distracted to tell they are full or eat when they are not hungry out of habit. On top of these issues, people often eat unhealthy foods while watching TV.
· People are exposed to food commercials when they watch TV or digital media, which can encourage them to eat. Many of the foods advertised are not healthy. Every year, the food industry spends 4.6 BILLION dollars on advertising to children, with each American child viewing about 15 food advertisements per day (mostly for unhealthy foods).
Researchers are learning more and more about the harm associated with being sedentary – and this is independent of time spent in physical activity. So, even if you get your 60 minutes of physical activity, you also need to reduce your sitting/screen time. Keep this in mind when setting your goals and working on your health behaviors.
Ways to reduce screen time
Just like what we did with physical activity, the first way to reduce screen time is to TRACK how much screen time you actually get each day. The average child in the US gets 7 hours of screen time every day, and adults get 10 hours!
We have two handouts for you this week. One is ‘Ideas to reduce children’s screen time.’ This can help show when some screen time may be occurring without you realizing and help you come up with ways to turn off screens. The second is a ‘Screen time log’ worksheet. This is very similar to the physical activity tracker, but shows which screens are being used and for how long.
With this new information, you may choose to create two types of goals this week related to 1) increasing your physical activity 2) reducing your screen time.
Family Activity Corner
Set an alarm when your child is watching TV, playing videos, or spending time in front of a screen. Set the alarm between 15-30 minutes. Every time the alarm goes off, have your child take a break from sedentary time. Use this time as an opportunity to get more exercise or completing an active task around the house.
Think about other creative ways to reduce screen time. Strategies like removing access to screens 1 hour before bedtime can help reduce screen time and help your child’s body prepare for sleep.
Everyone in the home can also try these stretches (maybe even when watching TV). Check out this website: https://www.jenreviews.com/yoga-for-kids.
· Try this yoga activity! Go to YouTube and search Yoga For The Classroom – Yoga with Adriene or you can click this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Td6zFtZPkJ4.
· Pick five of your favorite stretches that you learned this week and try them after you finish an assignment!
· Try this calming exercise. Go to YouTube and search Bring It Down – Flow GoNoodle or click on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRkILioT_NA.
Current cases in the Kansas City, MO area: https://covid-19-response-in-kcmo-kcmo.hub.arcgis.com/
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