My kids are participating in Jump Rope for Heart at their school this month. The twins are definite jumpers, always on the move. Sometimes it is outside with a skipping rope or one of those balls that attaches to your ankle – I don’t know what they are called, but in my day they either had a lemon or a strawberry at the end and elicited some wincing and mild cursing when I didn’t jump in time and it whacked me in the ankle. But sadly a lot of their jumping is done on the trampoline or bouncing vigorously on a yoga ball while watching TV. I tell myself that it’s okay if they are watching a lot of TV because at least they are moving. But it’s just not the same as chasing each other around the yard or park.
And Molly has always been a low-energy kid who is more content to sit in the grass looking for snails or in her bedroom with her nose in a book. Even when she and her friends get together, they all bring their iPads and play Minecraft. That’s probably going to continue to be like that now that she is firmly entrenched in the tween years, but I can’t help wanting to fight to hold onto her childhood with more time to play.
I know I am not alone in this fight against the screens. And I admit that most days it is only a half-hearted fight – Molly was home sick for three days this week and the iPad got quite a work-out. She was using it to learn how to solve the Rubik’s cube though so I am not thoroughly ashamed – it’s a far-cry better than my go-to method of taking the cube apart and re-assembling it. The people at ParticipACTION know that we are not the only family struggling with this too, and they have launched a campaign to encourage replacing screen time with active time. They have released a series of 30-second videos that do a fantastic job of illustrating how screen time is cutting into play time.
And although at the end of the video they encourage you not to visit the website, www.participACTION.com has downloadable tools and resources, filled with ideas on how to reduce screen time and make room for active play at home, at school, or in the community.
They offer these tips to help balance screen time with active play time:
- Avoid making television watching part of your regular daily routine.
- Make family rules that limit how much screen time your kids are allowed each day.
- Eliminate background TV as it’s likely to draw your child’s attention. Instead, turn on music.
- Kids naturally play more actively when they’re outdoors, so head outside with them every day.
- Set a good example and limit your own screen time.
- Unplug for a day. Designate one day a week or month as a screen-free day for the whole family.
- For younger children, avoid using screens as an “electronic babysitter”.
- For older children, after-school is a key timeslot for activities, so register them in active after-school programs in the community.
- For older children, don’t allow a TV, computer, or cell phone in your child’s bedroom.
- For older children, explain to them that decreased screen time is not a punishment, but a healthy choice.
We had to fill out stacks of paperwork for the twins’ ADHD evaluations this week. Some of the questions involved the amount of screen time they have, and I truly wanted to skip that section because I thought our numbers were irresponsibly high. According to ParticipACTION [bctt tweet=”Canadian kids spend an average of seven hours and 48 minutes a day in front of screens.”]
I don’t know whether to feel better that we haven’t hit those levels yet, or sad for this downside of technology. At any rate, I am going to try to do better, which starts with getting my own butt outside. But maybe tomorrow. Because it snowed again today. I’m not a hero.
Disclosure – I was compensated to write this post. Now I just need someone to pay me to use the treadmill.