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Life Goes On - Even Without a TV On

May 30, 2010       Leave a Comment
By: Stacy Sawyer

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How many articles have you read that encourages you to get your kids moving more and eating less junk food? Well, here is one more. But for good reason - our children could be the first generation that lives a shorter life than their parents due to their weight issues. According to the American Heart Association, 1 in 3 children is overweight or obese in this country, an epidemic that we can no longer ignore as parents.

I will have you know that I am just as guilty as the next parent to drive through a Mickey D's, just to go home and sit through a Hannah Montana marathon. After all it is usually dinner time, I have worked all day, and I want to take it easy now. But unfortunately our kids are not moving enough primarily because they are getting too much screen time with video games, television and computers.

Experts recommend 1 to 2 hours of screen time a day, most kids get 4 to 6 hours. When I heard this I thought, "not my kid". Well, after thinking about the time before school that our television is on, the fact that it is on as soon as we return home until bed time, and let us not forget the computer games that are going also while the TV is on - it is at least 6 hours.

So after realizing this, I have made some changes. Granted these changes did not come without pouting, crying, screaming, stomping feet, rolling eyes, etc. but they are going to pay off in the end. I also had to realize that this is a good thing I am doing and it is worth it, after all my kid's health and quality of life is at stake.

Here are some ideas that may help you set the limit on screen time.

Have a plan. Offer alternative activities to TV or video games. Consider family game night, shooting some hoops, walking the dog or exploring a nearby park.

Be active with your kids. What kids want more than anything else is time with their parents, so give them that. Don't just send them out to play - go play with them!

Downplay the Tube. Don't position your furniture so the TV is the main focus of the room. Remove televisions from bedrooms. And remember to avoid using TV as a reward or punishment.

Plan TV watching in advance. Go through the TV guide and let your kids pick the shows they want to watch. Turn the TV on for those shows and turn it off afterwards. Don't just watch whatever comes on next.

Practice what you preach. Limit your own screen time. Your kids won't accept being restricted to two hours of TV watching if you veg out for four hours. The best way to influence your kids behavior is through example.

Remember, if I can do it, you can do it! Be strong, have a plan and don't back down. Your child's health is worth fighting for. You can get more information and ideas at Now onto eating those fruits and veggies...

Stacy Sawyer
Communications Director -- American Heart Association
989-225-7513 (cell)
517-349-3240 (fax)

I invite your questions and feedback.

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Stacy Sawyer

Stacy Sawyer is the Director of Communications for the American Heart Association. She can be reached at (989) 225-7513.

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