We know that sitting in front of a computer, laptop, tablet, video game or TV robs our children (and us!) of time that could be spent moving, playing or creating. It contributes to the obesity rate and encourages all of us to be “couch potatoes”.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids ages 8-18 now spend, on average, a whopping 7.5 hours in front of a screen for entertainment each day, 4.5 of which are spent watching TV. Over a year, that adds up to 114 full days watching a screen for fun.
Think about that – children are spending almost as much time in front of a screen as some of us spend during our work day. Wow! The 11-14 age group spends the most time in front of screens with their total reaching 9 hours per day! Five of these hours are spent watching television. Visit this website for a great infographic which shares information about each age group and their screen time averages. http://makinghealtheasier.org/getmoving
Get outside, have fun and move! How can we encourage our youth to become more active this summer?
• Limit total screen time to 1-2 hours per day.
• Involve your child in planning their day – ask them what activities they like to do and make some suggestions.
• Provide creative activities for your child to enjoy – think pens, paper, paint, modeling clay, or art and craft projects.
• Send the kids outside to play – try balls, bikes, skateboards, or sidewalk chalk.
• Resurrect some of the games you played as a kid – go outside with them and PLAY! Try soft ball, kick the can, tag, red rover, or hide-and-seek.
• Some areas offer free or low cost day camps – soccer, gymnastics, etc. – check out what is available in your area.
According to the Let’s Move website, spend time this summer encouraging your child to be active by exploring, riding, swimming or playing outside. Here are some ideas for each area:
As a family explore parks in your area. You may find a new walking trail, play ground or nature preserve. Plan a walk around the block in your neighborhood in the evening. Be safe but encourage your child to explore their surroundings. Visit http://www.nwf.org/NatureFind.aspx to locate a new area to explore.
Pump up those bike tires, grab your bike helmet and check those brakes. Enjoy a family bike ride either in your neighborhood or on a bike path. Many bike paths are available so explore a new one today. Find one of the many rails-to-trails for a smooth bike ride through nature.
Find a safe spot to swim. Lifeguards save lives so select a pool or swimming area carefully. Remember to wear sun protection while in the sun.
Look for a playground in your area. Perhaps you can plan a day to visit a play area near your home. Pack a picnic lunch and play! For play spaces near you, visit http://mapofplay.kaboom.org/playspaces/new
Remember to have fun this summer and encourage your family (kids and adults) to get outside and play! Get creative and reduce that screen time to one hour per day.
Author: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA email@example.com