Numerous studies have been shared cautioning us about the implications of too much screen time, especially for children. In a media-savvy world, this can be difficult. But simple (and fun!) steps can be taken both at home and in the workplace to reduce screen time. Ben Watson, Weight Management Coordinator at Munson’s Foster Family Community Health Center in Traverse City, shares a few ways to reduce screen time.
At home, families can designate times together that are media-free (for example, during dinner or driving). Plus, they can make sure to have media-free places throughout the home—such as bedrooms. Implementing less screen time can lead to a better mind and body, and additional quality time with family, Ben explains.
“Too much screen time has been associated with increased sleeping problems and weight gain. Additionally, too much screen time can lead to poor posture and unnecessary aches and pain associated with being in a compromised position for a long period of time,” Ben says. “The biggest benefit of less screen time is living in the moment and more time for yourself and family.”
How to Reduce Screen Time for Kids
Here are three ideas for activities you can do at home (without screens!) to create fun quality time with your family.
- Lights, Camera, Action! Do your kiddos have a favorite movie? Try acting out a scene from it together. Gather costume pieces that represent their favorite characters and act out the story or their favorite musical numbers. Who knows, the acting may turn into a giant dance party!
- Play restaurant. First, create your own menus with craft supplies in the house, then assign roles for each member of your family. Who is in the kitchen preparing the meal or snack? And who will be the diner? After you play out one meal, switch roles and play again. Need healthy snack ideas? Check out healthy recipes on ShapeUpNorth.com!
- Pack a surprise “goodie bag.” Sometimes screen time is used as a way to get other chores around the house accomplished. If this is the case for you, try packing a bag or box with activities your children don’t normally do, and save it for a time when you need to keep them occupied and get tasks done. Items to include: a deck of cards, coloring books, a memory flashcard game or puppets for them to create their own storyline.
How to Reduce Screen Time for Adults
For adults, sometimes it can be near impossible to limit your screentime—especially if you’re working in front of a computer on a daily basis. Here are three tips from Ben to add variety to your workday and eliminate some screen time.
- Pay attention to your posture. Ben says, “Stand-up desks are a nice addition to the office to add variety and recruit more muscles while working.”
- Take breaks throughout the day. “Try setting a timer every hour or so to remind yourself to stretch—or take a water break for 5 minutes,” he recommends. The short walk to fill your water will help with being too sedentary.
- Schedule “walking” meetings. “See if you can take a walking meeting where everyone walks the halls or outside instead of sitting in a conference room,” Ben suggests. “It can be difficult, but looking for opportunities is a great place to start.”
What Are the Dangers of Screens?
Ben Watson, Weight Management Coordinator at Munson’s Foster Family Community Health Center, fills us in.
Q: What are the dangers of screen time in regards to weight gain?
A: “Increased sedentary behavior and mindless eating in front of the screen can lead to weight gain over the course of a few years.”
Q: How can these influence our daily lives?
A: “These daily habits have compounding effects and the weight gain can lead to other health issues including sleep apnea, diabetes and heart disease.”
Q: What do you recommend to solve the problem?
A: “The best recommendation is finding a balance between screen time, movement and stress reduction. The dosage for each individual is different but all play a critical role in weight management and long term health.”