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Limiting Screen Time—More ENERGY OUT

One of the biggest challenges to being more physically active for many Americans is the amount of sedentary time children and families spend in front of screens—TV, computer, video games, DVDs, and such.

Did you know?

According to the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation's survey, "Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8–18 Year Olds," March 2005:

  • Every day, on average, 8–18-year-olds spend:
    • Nearly four hours watching TV, videos, DVDs, and prerecorded shows
    • Just over one hour on the computer
    • About 50 minutes playing video games.
  • Two-thirds of 8–18-year-olds have TVs in their bedrooms and own video game players, and nearly one-third have computers in their bedrooms.
  • Children and teens who have TVs in their rooms spend almost 1½ hours or more a day watching TV than their peers without TVs in their rooms.

It's time to wean the screen

Parents and caregivers not only set the example for their children in their levels of physical activity, but they also set the rules for use of the TV and other screens, including DVDs, video games, and computers.

The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation survey, "Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8–18 Year Olds," also found that:

  • About half (53 percent) of all 8–18-year-olds said their parents gave them no rules about TV watching.
  • Nearly half (46 percent) said they do have rules but only 20 percent said the rules are enforced most of the time.
  • Most important, youth with TV rules that are enforced report two hours less daily media exposure than in homes without this supervision.

Setting and agreeing on a certain number of hours each day of "screen time" is important. Health experts recommend two hours or less a day that is not work- or homework-related time, such as watching documentary films or doing research or writing on a computer.

For tips on family-friendly and active ways to reduce screen time, visit the Live It section.


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