Children who spend a lot of time watching television, playing video games, on the computer, mobile or tablet are physically less active in childhood. They are more likely to consume less healthy products, such as soft drinks and foods rich in added sugars and fats. They also tend to eat more compulsively and quickly.
Gasol Foundation is committed to improving the eating and lifestyle habits of children, adolescents and their families. For this reason, through our projects in the US, Spain and on our social media channels (with the hashtag #HealthyChallenge), we will share healthy living advice for children, adolescents and families to reinforce why it’s important to moderate the screens usage time – specially for children.
It’s important to remember that when children spend a lot of time in front of the TV screen or other media outlets, they stop doing other types of activities in movement. Other health benefits of reducing screen time:
- Help prevent childhood obesity.
- Children perform better in school, have a healthier diet, are more physically active, and are able to participate in school tasks more efficiently.
- Children rest and sleep better.
- They have more time to devote to other activities that help brain development, imagination and social skills, such as speaking, playing an instrument, singing or reading.
- Being educated in the appropriate amount of screen time usage during the first 4 years of a child’s life can help to diminish their interests in screen time all together.
How much screen time should be allowed to children every day, both in child care and at home?
Screen time includes TV viewing, video games, use of computers, Internet browsing, tablets and mobile.
- Remove the use of the screens (TV / computer / game console / tablet / mobile) for children under 2 years.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a maximum use of 2-hour for children over the age of 2.
Tips to reduce screen time:
- Fill out a chart that lists the screen usage time of each family member to see how much time is spent in front of a screen.
- Explain to your children that it is important to get up and move more to maintain good health. Tell them they will also have more energy, and it will help them develop and / or perfect new skills, such as cycling and other activities with friends.
- Create a standard at home limiting the maximum time of 2 hours every day of the use of screens. If you can get less time, even better!
- Parents and older family members are role models. If they limit their use of screen time to no more than 2 hours a day as well, they too will be able to take advantage of that time and spend it doing active activities with their children; thus sending a positive message for their children to learn from..
- Limit screen time by removing the TV or other devices from areas where children spend time. This will help children have less interest in the screen and helps them to do other activities.
- Do not put a TV or computer in your child’s bedroom. Children who have screens in their rooms tend to use them more.
- Replace screen time with creative activities that children can do on their own while you are doing other tasks. Watching television can become a habit, so it’s easy to forget what’s beyond. Give children ideas and alternatives, such as playing outside, playing sports, reading or playing an instrument.
- Family meals together provide ample time for family discussions. Amongst one another, the days events can be shared, resolutions to small conflicts that may have arised during the day can be explored, and explanations and answers to questions can be discussed. During this time, it is best to turn off all televisions and electronics.
- Do not use screen time as reward or punishment. Practices like this make television seem even more important to children.