This week, September 19-25th, is National Turnoff Week. The Center for Screen-Time Awareness organizes this challenge which is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Families are challenged to turn off their television sets, computers, electronic games and other electronic devices for the entire week. Most people in the United States, children included, watch too much TV and spend too much time in front of their computers.
Besides the negative health effects from these sedentary activities, studies have shown that children who watch too much TV are more likely to have behavioral and aggression problems. The AAP recommends that children have no more than 2 hours of “screen” time per day (TV, computer time, video games, etc.) and that children younger than the age of 2 years watch no TV at all. Despite these recommendations, the average American child watches 3 hours of television a day.
This week, think about stepping up to this challenge. Right now, you are probably thinking, “what on earth are we going to do instead?” Think about reading books, playing board games, putting together puzzles, doing an art project or redecorating a room in the house. If the weather is nice, take a nature walk, visit the zoo, clean up your neighborhood or plant some flowers. Visit an apple orchard, pick some apples and make an apple pie together. The possibilities are endless! The goal is to have fun and reconnect as a family.
Once you have done this for the week, think about making this part of your routine. Pick two or three days a week to unplug the electronics and “tune in” to each other. Your family will be happier and healthier because of it! Are you and your family up to the challenge?