To be honest, Screen Free Week lasted about a day in our house. The first night we read books, played games, and cards, but after that we caved. Screen Free Week became “Less Screen Time Than Normal Week,” which I still consider a win.
The idea behind the movement is to get kids away from the couch and into doing other things and being creative on their own. Getting kids off the couch will also help them get more active, and that’s important foundation for a healthy generation.
Statistics Canada recently surveyed parents about the activity level of their kids. Parents said their kids were up and moving around for more than 100 minutes a day – doing things like walking to school, and playing outside. However, when accelerometers were used to actually measure movement, the results were 40% less.
The good news is because of the recession, kids are actually outside and playing more often. The bad news is, they’re still not doing it enough.
you can add a new role to the parents’ job description: Chauffeur, chef, psychologist, housekeeper, teacher, doctor – and personal trainer.
New fitness guidelines for children (above) are also warning against sedentary behavior, and for some parents the definition of sedentary might come as a surprise. If you have more than one child, you know how hard it is to wrangle them on your own. Often the older will be allowed to walk, while the younger is in a stroller. Even some will get bigger strollers to keep all their kids on 4 wheels. That’s bad. The kids aren’t moving. They’re not being active. Strollers, high chairs, car seats all count as sedentary time. The surveys showed that for nearly 8 hours a day, most kids are just sitting there.
There is a footnote to the encouragement of activity, one that says no screen time for kids under 2, and limited screen time for kids 2-4, no more than an hour and even less is best. Parents report that their kids are averaging about 2.5 hours a day, but based on parental estimates for activity we could assume screen time is higher, maybe even closer to 4 hours a day.
That’s the hard part. My 2 year old has been thumbing around my iPhone since before he could walk. “iPad” was one of his first words. I wouldn’t be surprised if my other son was writing apps shortly after his 5th birthday. I have iKids.
Still, I have all of these cautionary warnings sitting on my shoulder like Jiminy Cricket as I go throughout the day. I find myself adding up the time that they are up and walking around. We did the groceries for 90 minutes in the morning. They played in the sandbox, and raked the grass in the afternoon. After that we all just kind of lounged around the house reading books, and watching some shows. Did I fail? Probably. But I’m thinking about it, and I’m trying.
Image Credit: Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines PDF
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