CindySays™... - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

CindySays™...

Posted: Updated:
Cindy Boggs Cindy Boggs

Cindy Boggs is an American Council on Exercise-certified fitness professional, healthy lifestyle expert and author of the award winning book, CindySays … “You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World.” Send inquiries/comments to cindysays@aol.com.

Are you concerned that your child is spending too much time in front of a screen? TV, laptops, tablets and other mobile devices are at our children’s fingertips and also standing between them and active lives.

We know they shouldn’t — we try to discourage too much of it and yet we’re texting, downloading and swiping just as much. Unfortunately, in the midst of our own busy lives, we often overlook it in a desperate attempt to keep up with our own obligations. When birthdays come, we wrap up a new video game for them perpetuating sedentary behavior and inactivity.

How Bad Is It?

  • The average American child spends seven hours a day in front of one form of a screen or another.
  • Call it screen time or sit time, research links our exploding childhood obesity rates with the amount of screen time they view daily.
  • Children who spend excessive amounts of time using electronic devices have poorer eating habits — snacking more often and choosing less healthy foods and beverages.
  • The World Congress on Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases presented a study in April 2014 that linked screen time with diminished bone mineral density.
  • Researchers from the Rush University Prevention Center found increased screen time was linked with shorter sleep and shorter sleep was linked to an increased risk for obesity.
  • Children who had more than four hours of screen time a day were less than half as likely to be physically fit as those who spent less than two hours in front of a screen per day.
  • Too much screen time is not only detrimental physically but also can inhibit communication.

If that’s not enough, consider the studies that show that too much screen time is associated with increased risks of Type II diabetes, hypertension, asthma and metabolic syndrome.

There’s An App For That

Further, the detrimental effects of our children constantly staring into electronic devices goes beyond the physical aspect. In a world where books have been replaced by apps and where avatars are common substitutes for friends, our children are also being denied an integral part of their development, which is necessary face-to-face communication time. Their brains rely and depend on human social interaction and when a child is interacting with screens a majority of their waking hours, it leaves little time for people.

Recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics says this about children’s exposure to screen time:

  • It discourages any screen time for children under two years of age,
  • It recommends no more than two hours screen time a day for older children,
  • It suggests keeping media devices out of children’s bedrooms,
  • It urges keeping family mealtimes screen-free,
  • It recommends adopting screen-free days each week for the entire family.

How to Disconnect

The best way to encourage children to distance themselves from electronic devices is to be a good role model and do the same. They will always be inclined to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Some families designate areas of the home as “no device” zones such as the kitchen or bedroom since meal time is family time and bedrooms should be for sleeping.

Actively engaging children is another way to cut down on screen time. Going outside to walk, run, bike or play a physical game or sport improves physical fitness, encourages social interaction and is excellent for the entire family. Most importantly, establish clear rules — if children understand that meals, homework and chores must be completed before the screens can be turned on, they are less likely to challenge the system.

Encouraging a balanced life creates a healthy life. Too much time spent doing any one thing is rarely good. To achieve balance, the family needs a certain amount of social, physical, mental, spiritual, family, work and hobby time.

Powered by Frankly