Thoughtful Parenting: Limit your child's 'screen time'

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At a glance

Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0

■ 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables

■ 2 or fewer hours of recreational screen time

■ 1 or more hours of physical activity

■ 0 sugary drinks

Source: LiveWell Northwest Colorado

In the last two articles, we’ve introduced the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 framework along with helpful tips for you to create a healthier home environment. Today’s focus is on the “2” component — limiting recreational screen time to two or fewer hours per day.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average child watches an average of five to six hours of TV each day. Watching too much television is associated with an increased prevalence of obesity, lower reading scores and attention problems. The AAP therefore recommends that children younger than age 2 shouldn’t watch any TV. In addition, the AAP recommends no TVs or computers in the rooms in which your children sleep and no more than two hours of total screen time each day.

How can you help your family limit recreational screen time?

■ Tame the TV and computer. Set limits and know how much TV your child is watching.

■ Set some basic rules, such as no TV or computer before homework or chores are done.

■ Do not watch TV during mealtime.

■ Use a timer. When the bell rings, it’s time to turn off the TV.

■ Eliminate TV time during the week.

■ Help your family plan TV viewing in advance.

■ Keep books, magazines and board games in the family room.

■ Make a list of fun activities to do instead of being in front of a screen.

■ Set family guidelines for age-appropriate shows.

Better yet, try these activities instead of watching TV:

■ Ride a bike

■ Go on a nature hike

■ Put together a puzzle

■ Turn on the music and dance

■ Read a book or magazine

■ Play board games

■ Walk, run or jog

■ Start a journal

■ Play ball

■ Go to the library

■ Rollerblade

■ Play charades

■ Sled, ski or snowshoe

For more information about Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0, visit www.letsgo.org or contact Barb Parnell, LiveWell Northwest Colorado community coordinator, at bparnell@nwcovna.org.

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