A typical work week had me digging through homework folders, reviewing random papers and discovering an article from Time Kids, detailing the average American child’s time usage of electronics, not including cell phones. I was blown away by the staggering hours, with the record high for 11-15 year olds clocking 10 hours a day. That is a full-time job, plus overtime! Intrigued over the possible implications for what can only be described as addictive behavior, I continued investigating. I found some even more startling facts. I like to think, I’m somewhat savvy when it comes to screen time in our home, but, I felt dumb as a brick when my general thought of – TV and video games are just bad for you– needed some major upgrading!
Excessive screen time, excessive being above the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of 1-2 hours of daily screen time, places our children at risk for*
• Obesity – a 20% increase
• Cardiovascular Disease – a 20% increase
• Irregular Sleep Habits
• Behavior Problems – ADD
• Violence -A child will witness 200,000 violent acts on screens by age 18
• Impaired eyesight
• Impaired academic performance
To keep that list in perspective, a study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded, for every hour of television watching we do, our life span is reduced by 22 minutes! Aside from curb-siding our televisions, smashing our computers and pitching our iphones out the window (not happening here!), how do we limit usage in this digital age to a healthy level, when screens are in the classroom, at home, at the grocery store and even on the side of a highway?
The heavy burden is primarily in the home where students are entertaining themselves to…death. Intentional choices must be made to limit usage and replace that full time job with a healthy lifestyle. Here are five alternative choices to screen time for our children.
• Be bored – Out of boredom springs forth creative processes.
• Go outside– Hunt for bugs or rocks, juggle a ball, walk to a friend’s house
• Call a relative – Have an actual conversation, no FB, no Tweet, no Text
• Help make a meal– Yum!
• Read a book with paper pages…oooohhhh
I know the list can go on and on. Please share your alternative choices to screen time with our TSC family. Your expertise as an educator and parent can foster future, empowering choices for all of our children. Looking forward to your suggestions!
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
* Facts from kidshealth.org, Mayo clinic and National Institue of Health