Flip the Switch

Five tips to limit your family’s screen time.

Experts say that kids need at least 60 minutes of activity a day. With a child’s attention easily captivated by TVs, DVDs, video games and the Internet, there is often limited time left over for physical activity. Consider these tips to start creating a healthier balance between screen time and activity for your entire family.

1. Check Yourself: Be aware of how much screen time you and your children are getting. Set limits for the entire family. You’ll be amazed how much extra time you have on your hands when you turn off the TV or computer. Make sure you turn off these distractions during mealtime and instead start a discussion involving all family members.

2. Play It Down: Using screen time to reward or punish a child makes it seem more important than it is. Use praise, encouragement and recognition for physical activity.

3. Work It Out: Use the TV to watch a workout video, such as dancing, tae kwon do or yoga. You can also encourage your kids to do jumping jacks, pushups or crunches during the commercial breaks of their favorite shows.

4. Provide Other Options: Don’t rely solely on screen time for entertainment. Instead help your child find other things to do. Take your kids to the park, play outside with them, offer alternatives or help them learn a new sport.

5. Cut the Cord: Take the TVs and computers out of your kid’s bedrooms. Children who have these types of electronics in their rooms spend almost 1-1 ½ hours more each day using them than their peers.