Experts have been cautioning parents for decades to limit the time children spend in front of a screen. Yet here we are, in the middle of Screen-Free Week (April 30-May 6), and screentime is higher than ever.
Children ages 6 to 11 watch an average of 28 hours a week of TV, according to a Metro Parent Magazine special report, "The Great Screen Debate." And according to a 2009 study by The Nielsen Company, children ages 2-5 are consuming an average of more than 32 hours weekly "boob tube" time.
Every year since 1996, Screen-Free Week – organized by The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood – helps families cut back on the amount of time they spend in front of the various screens that captivate us.
Here are three tips from metroparent.com for families on how tackle the "too-much-screen-time" conundrum:
1. Create a schedule for screen time
Sit down with your family and make a daily or weekly schedule for screen time. WebMD recommends families set time limits for TV and computer usage that works around everyone's schedules. According to The Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, children shouldn't watch TV an hour before bedtime, as it can create sleep disturbances. Try cutting out TV during meal times, or only allow computer time after homework is finished.
2. Unplug the bedrooms
Take the TVs, computers and other screens out of your child's bedroom. After you've created a screen schedule, it will be easier to monitor the amount of time your kids spend in front of the TV.
3. Disconnect cable
If you cut the cable in your home, everybody will be less tempted to watch TV, says Better Homes and Gardens magazine. What can you do with your extra money? Buy board games, puzzles, books or save it for a vacation together?
You'll find the complete report at Metroparent.com.