April 29, 2012

Tune In To Screen Free Week

April 30 through May 5 is national “Screen Free Week”.  It is designed to encourage families to turn off the screens (televisions, computers, phones, video games and hand held devices) and celebrate family fun and face-to-face contact.
American adults average over 151 hours of television a month, and an additional 27 plus hours on the internet.  (And that does not include work related screen time).  Preschoolers spend over 30 hours a week in front of a screen, and older children even more.  Excess screen time has been linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, attention problems and the erosion of creative play.  There is a link between unhealthy behaviors and poor eating habits in adults who watch a great deal of tv.   Mindless snacking is just one consequence of screen time.
For those who cannot or will not limit any screen time there are a few things to make it healthier:  Set an alarm or timer so that you need to get up and walk around at least every 15 minutes.  (And no, a trip to the pantry is not part of the plan). Prepare snacks in advance, so you can portion out what you will eat, and do not refill.  If you are watching tv get up on every commercial.  This would be a great time to do some squats, lunges or planks.  Even those who exercise regularly need to be aware of the risk from prolonged sitting:  Studies have shown that excessive sitting is a cardiovascular risk factor, even if you exercise every day.
As I write this in front of my computer screen I can hear the howls of children (and adults) rebelling against any reduction in screen time.  You can get help by clicking on  This free site can help families organize and enjoy their own screen free (or at least screen reduced) week.  Who knows, you may have so much fun that you cancel the cable!

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