Technology is everywhere and something we’ve become reliant on, not only to communicate with but to be entertained by. Whether we use email, television, the internet or video games, some form of technology is present in our lives on a regular daily basis.
Recent research actually suggests that girls who play video games with their dads are happier. But, while some time playing age-appropriate computer games, watching informative television and playing with educational iPhone apps can be beneficial, too much (screen time) can actually be detrimental.
According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, kids under the age of two should have zero screen time and kids two and over should have no more than two hours of screen time. This includes time spent in front of the TV, computer, iPhone, iPad and DVD videos (including while riding in the minivan). Why? Research has proven that greater amounts of screen time are linked to delayed language development, aggressive behaviour and obesity later on in life.
It’s therefore important for your kids to have an alternative to technology in order to stay active and healthy. Here are some tips to limit screen time and incorporate an active routine in your child’s schedule:
Set an Example
Before you limit your kids’ technology use, it’s important to be a good role model and ensure you’re doing the same. If they see that you limit your time on the TV, computer, iPad or iPhone to two hours a day, they’ll be more inclined to do the same.
Explain Why Activity Is Beneficial
Tell your kids why moving more and living a healthy lifestyle is good for you. Explain that getting outside and going for a walk, a bike ride or playing a game of basketball will give them more energy and provide more fun for them and their friends. Outside activity is also an excellent way for you and your kids to bond.
Show your kids active alternatives to their iPad games and TV shows. Get outside and spend some quality time together by going for a walk, playing a game of hide-and-go-seek, building a fort or discovering a new hobby like learning the guitar, cooking, painting or writing.
Limit Technology to the Family Room
Avoid putting a TV or computer in your child’s bedroom. Placing a computer or TV in your child’s room will entice them to spend more time in their room and increase their screen time. Instead, keep the TV and computer in the living room where you can monitor what your kids are viewing and for how long.
Don’t Reward or Punish with Screen Time
The term “you want what you can’t have” is so true! If you make TV or the Internet a reward, you risk making your kids want it even more.
Screen-based technology such as computers, smart phones and television are intriguing and fun! But spending too much time on them can increase a sedentary lifestyle, leading to such health problems as obesity. Teaching our kids how to strike a balance between screen time and healthy activities will help increase their physical activity level as well as natural creative abilities.