Tune Out Your TV for Better Health!

Date: July 28, 2019

American children watch about 3 hours of TV a day. Many watch more than that. Sound like a lot? Think about your average day. In the morning, the kids might watch an hour while eating breakfast and getting ready for school. After school, kids might watch another hour before dinner, and then another hour before bed. Three hours comes and goes pretty easily.

We’d like to encourage you and your family to turn off the TV. 

  • Moving your body keeps you fit!
  • Do something active instead of watching TV, playing videogames, or spending time on the computer.

Our goal is to make children aware of how much TV they watch and encourage them to trade some of that time for activities that are more positive for their bodies and minds. Setting limits on TV and other screen time (like computers, mobile devices, and video games) can benefit your children’s health.

How is TV a problem for health? Watching several hours of TV each day can lead to less physical activity, over eating, and higher risk for becoming overweight. TV watching also may influence children to make unhealthy food choices because they see a lot of advertisements for foods that are high in sugars and calories.

A few quick facts…

  • Each day, children receive about 58 commercial messages from television alone. About half of these are for food.
  • Close to 98% of food commercials on weekend morning network TV are for unhealthy foods high in calories, sodium, or sugar.
  • Food and drink marketing aimed at kids has more than doubled during the last 10 years from $7 billion to $15 billion a year.

What’s a parent to do? Set limits! Children over the age of 2 should watch TV, play video games, or use the computer less than 2 hours each day.

Tips for Success

  • No TV during meal times. Turn off the TV and talk to your children during meal times.
  • No TV sets in any bedrooms. Keep TVs in common areas and out of kids’ bedrooms.
  • No Surfing. Only watch favorite shows instead of finding something to watch.
  • Use technology. Screening devices can remove commercials and limit the time kids spend watching TV. TiVo or TV Allowance are helpful tools
  • Be a good role model. Limit your own TV viewing. Kids will learn from you!
  • Endure kids’ complaints. This may be a parent’s biggest challenge. Although it may be hard at first, limits on TV can actually help you spend more time as a family. You can free up time to do other things like play games, read, or just be together. Stick with it!
  • Help kids deal with boredom. Be prepared to suggest other activities. Over time, kids will start to enjoy other pastimes even more!

Key Messages

  • Limit children’s overall screen time (TV, videogames, internet surfing, etc.) to less than 2 hours per day.
  • Do not allow television sets in children’s bedrooms.
  • Help children find other things to do besides watching TV, such as playing games, doing crafts or being active.
  • Be a good role model and limit your own TV viewing and computer time at home.

Suggested Rules to Live By

  • Celery sticks with peanut Less than 2 hours of total screen time each day (including TV, non-school related computer, and video games).
  • No TV during meal times.
  • No TV during homework.
  • No TV in any bedrooms.
  • No eating while watching TV.
  • No channel surfing—watch favorite shows only.
  • Limit viewing to set days and times.