It's summer vacation and more free time means more time for
video games, television and the Internet. But sedentary behavior
(such as whiling away hours watching SpongeBob and Tom and Jerry
reruns or posting notes on MySpace) has been proven to be a huge
factor in the increase of childhood obesity. Not only are our
children not moving as they sit idle in front of the TV or computer
screen, but they're also being periodically bombarded with
advertising urging them that it's always a good time for a
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one
to two hours of quality TV and videos (or video games) a day for
older children and no screen time for children under age 2.
Make it a family goal this summer to decrease screen time (this
includes Facebook- and game-addicted moms and dads).
- Decide together as a family a fair amount of time that you'll
all have to spend plugged in each week. Talk to your children about
why it's a good idea to limit screen time (i.e., we can make our
own fun memories as a family instead of watching The Family Guy or
- Set a good example. How many hours do you spend plugged
- Keep TV sets, VCRs, video games and computers out of children's
bedrooms and in a common family area.
- Don't use the TV as background noise. Turn on the radio if you
- Make it a rule that the TV is to be turned off when a friend
comes over. Set a reasonable limit for video game time.
- For summer road trips, leave the handheld video games at home.
Your child will learn to enjoy looking out the car window. Research
road trip games or listen to an audio book and discuss as a
- Teach your children other ways to unwind. Read a book together
or encourage independent reading, listen to music, provide a nice
journal and pencils for sketching.
- Offer alternatives to TV. Go outside and play catch with your
child, kick around a soccer ball, unleash the sprinkler, lay out a
blanket and play cards under the shade of a tree. Make your own
special memories and enjoy the fleeting summer weather
Amy Bizzarri is a mom of two living in Logan Square. She also blogs at tiramisumom.com.
See more of Amy's stories here.