Q: How much television time is too much television time?
Television and the computer can be excellent sources of education and entertainment for your child. Too much screen time, however, can have unhealthy side effects. It is imperative to monitor and limit the amount of time that your child spends playing video games, watching television, and playing games on the Internet.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children watch no more than one to two hours a day of quality programming and that children under age 2 have no screen time whatsoever. The Kaiser Foundation reports some disturbing numbers in their survey of "screen time" or time spent sitting in front of a computer, video game, or television screen. Among their findings are the following:
Children ages 6 months to 6 years spend three times as many hours watching television as they do reading or being read to by an adult.
Children spend 4.5 hours per day in front of a screen, with approximately 2.5 hours of this watching television.
Children ages 2 to 7 average two hours of television per day
Children 8 to 13 average 3.5 hours of television per day.
Teenagers average 2.75 hours of television per day.
Two-thirds of 8- to 18-year-olds have a television in their bedroom and one-third also have a computer in their bedroom.
Children and teens who have televisions in their rooms spend almost 11/2 more time in front of the television then children without televisions in their rooms.
Children with screen times greater than four hours per day were more likely to be overweight compared to those who watched television only one hour per day.
If you feel that your child is spending too much time in front of a screen, the following steps should be helpful:
Monitor the amount of screen time and set limits. No more than two hours per day. After setting the limits, the guidelines must be enforced.
Do not put a television or computer in your child's bedroom. Televisions or computers in bedrooms make it difficult for parents to monitor usage.
Don't allow your child to watch television while doing homework.
Turn off the television during meal time. Make eating together a priority.
Set a good example and limit the amount of television that you watch on a daily basis.
Encourage active physical activities in which the entire family can participate. As your child grows older, encourage your child to participate in team sports. Sports promote physical activity, healthy competition, and teamwork.
When monitoring your child's screen time, some simple rules and common sense will go a long way in helping your child become a better student and develop a healthy mind and body.
Dr. Wayne Babcanec is the superintendent of Norwalk City Schools. His column appears every other Friday. For more information on Norwalk City Schools, call (419) 668-2779.