Why is this occurring?
- There is an increase in the popularity of videogames, iPads, smart phone use, computer use and so on. Children are receiving items like iPads at a very young age – I frequently see children as young as five.
- Adults have also increased their screen time and children are influenced by this.
Why is this a problem?
Screen time is largely displacing physical activity and activities that stimulate the brain. Children typically would come home from school and play with their friends, siblings or parents but we are now seeing them choose screen based activities, by themselves instead.
This limits physical activity which has negative impacts on physical and mental health. It also decreases socialising and the opportunity to build and strengthen bonds with family.
What is recommended?
It is recommended that children limit their screen time to no more than two hours per day, over the age of two. Children under the age of two should have no screen time. If your child spends a lot of time performing screen based activities then this can be reduced gradually – see my blog on ‘motivating children to move and eat well’.
It is recommended that children and adults undertake one hour of exercise each day. At least half an hour of this should be strenuous enough that your heart is beating faster than normal – this is when results are really achieved!
In doing this, children will form positive habits that they are more likely to then carry in to the future. This is going to help them maintain a healthy weight and to prevent lifestyle related disease!
If you remove screen time, kids will undoubtedly get bored. I will list some solutions to entertain them but you can come up with some yourselves. Don’t forget that children love getting involved in activities with their parents or people they look up to!
- Play a board game
- Do crafts
- Kick a ball around
- Go for a family walk
- Get them involved in simple dinner preparation tasks
- See who can walk up and down your set of stairs the most times (if you have stairs). This sounds extremely dull but making it in to a competition can excite kids and it’s also a great way to burn energy and build muscle!
All of their extra time does not have to be spent being active. Even incidental activity like cooking is good to get them up and moving. Craft and board games are also good for their development and creativity!
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist.
If you have questions about healthy eating, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.