Help Your Child by Limiting Screen Time

You know children shouldn‰Ûªt spend the day watching TV. But did you ever stop to realize that computer time, hand-held game time and TV time all fall under ‰ÛÏscreen time?‰Û Screen time constitutes any time a child is in front of an illuminated screen of any size.

As a parent, it‰Ûªs our job to limit the time a child is watching television and playing video games.

‰ÛÏThe AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommendation is no more than two hours of screen time, for all ages of children,‰Û said Julie Roehrborn, MD, Sheboygan Pediatric Associates.

The top three reasons we should reduce our children‰Ûªs screen time is to: 1) prevent childhood obesity, 2) prevent desensitizing kids to death or injury and 3) improve their sleep cycle.

‰ÛÏThere‰Ûªs an epidemic of kids not being able to sleep very well,‰Û explained Reohrborn. It‰Ûªs because they are next to a light box. ‰ÛÏThey end up with delayed sleep syndrome.‰Û

In a document published in February 2010, AAP reported that preschool children can improve their health and reduce their chance of obesity by 40 percent if they take in family meals on a regular basis, get adequate sleep and limit screen-viewing time.

‰ÛÏI tell my kids one hour,‰Û said Roehrborn, who lets her children decide which medium they will enjoy during their hour of screen time.

According to AAP, in June 2010, parents were asked how often they set limits on their children‰Ûªs screen time. Researchers found that more than 27 percent of youth aged 9 to 15 years exceeded the recommended limit of screen time, and that boys, black children and children from lower-income families exceeded this limit more than other populations. However, children who strongly agreed their parents had rules about television viewing time were less likely to exceed recommended screen time limits.

When limiting screen time, it‰Ûªs also important to make sure the volume is turned down in order to not injure sensitive ear drums.

And for those of you with toddlers and babies, it‰Ûªs suggested that your youngsters do not get any screen time.

In a study of preschoolers (ages one-four), a child's risk of being overweight increased by six percent for every hour of television watched per day. If that child had a TV in his or her bedroom, the odds of being overweight jumped an additional 31 percent for every hour watched. Preschool children with TVs in their bedroom watched an additional 4.8 hours of TV or videos every week. (Dennison, 2002)

Too much TV time also reduces reading skills, increases hyperactivity and impairs socialization skills. To give your children the best head start on life, limit screen time and engage in some fun family time.

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