A kids health and psychology expert has just published a lead article in a British medical journal citing early childhood screen time as a significant cause of physical and mental health issues.
A new report in the British journal Archives of Disease in Childhood says that much more needs to be done to curb the amount of daily screen time and delay the age at which children are exposed to TV, video games, smart phones, laptops, and other electronic screens.
The British psychologist and child health expert, Dr. Aric Sigman, in his report, says there is mounting evidence linking adverse physical, intellectual, and mental health outcomes with early childhood exposure to electronic screen time and that health care advocates and government leaders should take a stand and set clear guidelines.
Too much TV
Sigman cites statistics showing that
- Britain’s children have regular access to an average of five different screens at home by the time they are 10 years old.
- Nearly one in three American infants actually has a TV in their bedroom.
- Almost half of all infants watch TV or DVDs for nearly two hours per day.
- Over the course of childhood, children spend more time watching TV than they spend in school.
- By the age of seven, a child born today will have spent one full year of 24-hour days watching screens, rising to three full days by the time the child is 18 years old.
Also cited by Sigman in his article were a number of studies linking attentional problems to young children who were exposed to TV programs in early childhood.
Parents who thought educational television viewing was good for their baby were cautioned in Sigman’s report to drastically limit screen time for toddlers and to delay any screen viewing until the age of three.
Tips to limit screen time
- Turn off the TV during dinner and enjoy each other’s company.
- Let your kids help with dinner or chores around the house.
- Point your kids to a good book, comic book, newspaper, or magazine to read, either for school or for pleasure.
- Sign your child up for an after-school or sports program in your neighborhood or school.
- Pick a show you want to watch and turn the TV off once the show is over.
- Use a TV timer; once the TV timer goes off its time to turn off the TV.
15 fun family exercise ideas
- Set an example for your kids by being active yourself.
- Play tag, indoors or outdoors.
- Do squats during commercial breaks while watching television.
- Have a sit-up competition.
- Buy a pedometer for each member of the family, and have a daily challenge to see who can take the most steps.
- Visit the zoo, museum, or amusement park to get in plenty of walking.
- Have a hula hoop contest.
- Jump rope.
- Make a pact that for every 10 minutes on the computer everyone has to run up and down the stairs 10 times.
- Volunteer to walk the dogs at your local SPCA.
- Go on a scavenger hunt.
- Have a bike race around the block.
- Choose gifts that make your child move such as balls, bicycles, skates, or kites.
- Present a weekly fitness challenge for the whole family, and post it on the fridge. Some examples include performing 10 jumping jacks every day, doing 10 squats every time you go to sit down, or jumping on one leg for as long as you can.
- Keep a box in the trunk of your car that holds balls, jump ropes, and chalk. That way you will be ready for an afternoon of fitness fun, whenever, and wherever you are.