When we introduce people to the 5-2-1-0 concept, a refrain we often hear is, "Oh, wow, only two hours of screen time? That sounds really hard." Of the four steps in the simple 5-2-1-0 formula to practice four habits every day, screen time tends to jump out at people as the toughest to manage everyday.
We get it. Sometimes it feels as if screens have taken over our lives. We use them to communicate, to play, to entertain, and to watch while we relax and unwind. And that time can really add up. Parents ask us, "does 'screen time' include TV time?" It does. Screen time means time on a laptop, in front of a TV, on a tablet or on the smartphone. From the CDC website: "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. That’s just the time they spend in front of a screen for entertainment. It doesn’t include the time they spend on the computer at school for educational purposes or at home for homework." The big problem? Screen time is often time away from playing, running, hiking, and getting other forms of physical activity. But there are steps you can take as a family to ensure that screens don't rule your household and tools you can use to ensure you get plenty of physical activity, no matter the weather or time of year.
- Winter can make it hard to get enough physical activity time outdoors - it's cold, it gets dark early, and sometimes it's just too icy to be safe. One tool that can help schools and families get physical activity indoors is GoNoodle. There is a fee for schools to subscribe to it, but the app for families to use is free. You can find fun, silly, high impact, and even educational activities and "brain break" exercises and dances that are fun for all ages.
- Sometimes you just need some suggestions about what to do. Go here for a monthly activity calendar to give you a fun physical activity recommendation every day of the year.
- Of course, with screens, time can get away from you. One way to ensure 30 minutes of screen time doesn't turn into 60: set a timer. When the timer goes off, walk around the neighborhood or do a couple of GoNoodle videos.
- Limit screen time to certain times of day and incorporate those into your family's schedule so that your screen time is deliberate and not a runaway activity that can fill up too much time unintentionally.
- Finally, ban screens during meals. Not only do screens interfere with conversation and the important social aspects of sharing meals, screens can distract you from paying attention to your body. If you're distracted, it's harder to pay attention to when you're full, and you can risk overeating.
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