Limit kids’ screen time to in­crease ac­tiv­ity

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FOOD - By LeeAnn Wein­traub Special to Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Across the na­tion fam­i­lies are being en­cour­aged to pur­sue a more ac­tive life­style.

Ear­lier this year, for ex­am­ple, Los Angeles County launched a new pub­lic health cam­paign for fam­i­lies with chil­dren 5 years old and younger. Its fo­cus is to shut off tele­vi­sions, mo­bile de­vices and other screens and en­gage chil­dren in fun in­door and out­door ac­tiv­i­ties that get them up and mov­ing.

This cam­paign was cre­ated to help re­verse the trend of in­creas­ing obe­sity rates among preschoolers in Los Angeles in light of re­cent na­tional stud­ies show­ing that young chil­dren are get­ting an av­er­age of seven hours of screen time daily.

Other ini­tia­tives un­der the Early Child­hood Obe­sity Ini­tia­tive pro­gram in­clude mak­ing health­ful choices when eat­ing in restau­rants and re­duc­ing the con­sump­tion of sug­ary drinks.

The overuse of me­dia among young peo­ple of all ages has got­ten so con­cern­ing that just last month the Amer­i­can Academy of Pe­di­atrics re­leased sev­eral pol­icy state­ments on the topic. In the past, the AAP has rec­om­mended time lim­i­ta­tions for chil­dren’s use of tele­vi­sion and other screens, which in­cluded no screen time for those un­der 2 years old. How­ever, the new guide­lines pro­vide more spe­cific rec­om­men­da­tion re­gard­ing how screens should and should not be used based on age.

For ex­am­ple, for chil­dren less than 18 months old, screen time should be com­pletely avoided ex­cept for video chat, and those 18 to 24 months old should only con­sume high-qual­ity pro­grams or in­ter­net ap­pli­ca­tions when used to­gether with an adult or care­giver. Screen time for chil­dren 2 to 5 years old should be limited to up to one hour of high-qual­ity pro­gram­ming.

View­ing two hours or more of tele­vi­sion per day has been shown to in­crease obe­sity in preschool age chil­dren. Ex­ces­sive and evening me­dia ex­po­sure from tele­vi­sion, com­puter and mo­bile de­vices is also as­so­ci­ated with dis­rupted and fewer min­utes of sleep per night, likely at least par­tially re­lated to the blue light emit­ted from screens. The AAP rec­om­mends no screens dur­ing meal time and pow­er­ing down all tele­vi­sions and de­vices at least one hour be­fore bed­time.

Plac­ing lim­its on screen time is not just im­por­tant for chil­dren. Stud­ies show that adults’ risk of gain­ing weight or be­com­ing obese and ac­quir­ing weight-re­lated chronic dis­eases like di­a­betes and heart dis­eases in­creases sig­nif­i­cantly with ex­ces­sive screen time. Ul­ti­mately,

sit­ting in front of a screen con­trib­utes to an over­all se­den­tary life­style, and we know that too much sit­ting is not health­ful. Many adults al­ready spend a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of their day sit­ting in traf­fic and at work. Time spent con­sum­ing so­cial me­dia or watch­ing tele­vi­sion com­petes with avail­able time to par­tic­i­pate in phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties to use up calo­ries consumed through­out the day.

Kick that habit

Here are some tips for peo­ple of all ages to help form more health­ful screen view­ing habits for a more ac­tive life­style: 1Screen-free meal zone:

Dur­ing meal and snack times, all mo­bile de­vices are turned off or put away. Me­dia use paired with food is a recipe for overeat­ing, plus un­plug­ging from tech­nol­ogy helps

fos­ter con­nec­tion and con­ver­sa­tion. 2 Screen-free bed­room:

Con­sider lim­it­ing or com­pletely avoid­ing the use of tele­vi­sion, com­put­ers and other screens in the bed­room, es­pe­cially in the bed­rooms of young chil­dren. 3 Use timers: Keep track of screen-time use and place lim­its on daily con­sump­tion for young chil­dren. 4 Out­door ac­tiv­i­ties:

Check out www.parks. la­ to check out your lo­cal parks or sign up for recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties for peo­ple of all ages.

5 In­door ac­tiv­i­ties: As days get shorter and colder, en­gage chil­dren in in­door ac­tiv­i­ties such as mu­si­cal chairs, danc­ing, a scav­enger hunt, or jump­ing rope.

6 Go for qual­ity: Choose from high-qual­ity chil­dren’s pro­gram­ming such as PBS Kids, Com­mon Sense Me­dia and Se­same

Work­shop. Avoid chil­dren’s ex­po­sure to ad­ver­tis­ing, specif­i­cally of pro­cessed and un­health­ful foods and bev­er­ages.

LeeAnn Wein­traub, a reg­is­tered di­eti­tian, pro­vides nu­tri­tion coun­sel­ing and con­sult­ing to in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies and businesses. She can be reached at RD@ hal­


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