How much time do your children spend watching television?

Have you ever sat down and asked yourself how much time your kids devote to watching television? This is a simple question that too many parents these days seem to forget. After all, it seems only normal for a child to watch a little TV when he comes home for school while he eats an afternoon snack and unwinds from a long day. Some parents also find that letting the kids watch television during dinner is a good alternative to traditional family dinners on busy weekdays. Later, iff the children want to watch their favorite program before bed, what’s the big deal?

However, if a child is able to watch television from the time he gets home from school until he goes to bed at nine, this is five hours per a day and a whopping 25 hours in a single school week. Add this to time clocked in playing video games and browsing the internet, and the time your children spend looking at electronic screens may amaze you.

Scientific research proves it

According to ScienceDaily, a recent study conducted by Oregon State University sought to determine how much time kids were spending in front of electronic screen and what exactly was turning them into couch potatoes. The findings of the research may come as a surprise to you. Overall, they found that children who had parents who weren’t home often and reported spending less time with their children averaged 30 additional minutes in front of a screen per weekday compared to other children. It turns out that parents, and not flat screens or video games themselves, are making kids sedentary.

“We find that when kids enter school, their levels of physical activity decrease and overall, it continues to decline throughout their life,” explained study co-author, Bradley Cardinal. Early life movement is imperative for establishing healthy, active lifestyle patterns, self-awareness, social acceptance and even brain and cognitive development.”

What can I do as a parent?

Consider encouraging your child to have a more active lifestyle by doing physical activities with them. Going for evening bike rides or walks are a great way for both of you to do something active, reduce stress and spend time together. You could also aim to make your weekend plans more centered around getting out of the house and getting some exercise.

Summer is a perfect time to commit to this lifestyle change because there are so many things you can do together as a family outside that will get everyone’s heart rates up. For example, plan a camping trip and spend the day hiking or canoeing. You could also look into family lessons for activities such as tennis or surfing. Bring a volleyball or football along and have fun being active all day in the sand. You will be making memories for years to come, and you’ll feel more productive at the end of the day.

“A half an hour each day may not seem like much, but add that up over a week, then a month, and then a year and you have a big impact,” said lead author David Schary. “One child may be getting up to four hours more active play every week, and this sets the stage for the rest of their life.”

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