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Help Kids Break Away from the Screen this Summer with Tips from Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent offers tips for parents on how much screen time is healthy for their children

With kids out of school for the summer and temperatures rising, it may be tempting for parents to offer up video games and television as convenient and cool entertainment options. However, physicians at Atrium Health Navicent caution parents that too much screen time can be bad for their children’s development.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children ages 8 to 18 spend, on average, 7.5 hours in front of a screen for entertainment each day, 4.5 of which are spent watching TV. For children ages 11 to 14, the average screen time tops 9 hours a day. Over a year, that adds up to 136 full days.

Although screen time can serve as a good learning tool and video chats allow children to connect with loved ones, there is such a thing as good and bad screen time.

“The best type of screen time is the time that is supervised by you! Parents should be the most influential factor in a child’s life. Therefore, using a screen to entertain your children takes you out of the picture and leaves your children vulnerable to all of the negative effects of the screen,” said Dr. Christy Peterson, a pediatrician at Atrium Health Navicent. “Screen time should be limited. A screen does not replace a responsible adult,”

Too much screen time can lead to obesity and addiction. The CDC recommends kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. The time kids spend watching TV, playing video games or surfing the web is time they could be physically active.

“The time that a child is on a screen is time that he is not being active, and children need to be active,” Peterson said. “Time on screens has a direct relationship with obesity; meaning the more time a child spends on a screen, the more risk there is for obesity. Also, screens are addictive. Early childhood exposure to screens creates a ‘need’ for screens that is hard to overcome later in life.”

Parents can help their children by limiting screen time to no more than 1 to 2 hours per day, and ensuring they have 1 hour of physical activity each day. Creative ways to do this include removing televisions from children’s rooms and encouraging children to join clubs or participate in sports.

Other ideas to help children make the shift to less screen time include:

• Keep bedrooms free of televisions and computers.

• Eat meals and do homework away from the television.

• Use a radio for background noise rather than the television.

• Be intentional about what programs you want to watch ahead of time, and plan it out.

• To set an example for your children, take note of your own screen time habits and limit yourself to 2 hours a day.

Some fun, screen-free ideas to occupy your children this summer include playing with blocks, puzzles or Legos, creating artwork or other crafts, reading a book, going for a walk, or learning to cook or bake.

For information about Atrium Health Navicent’s children’s services, visit https://childrenshospitalnh.org/.

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of health care in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent is part of Advocate Health, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the fifth-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, created from the combination of Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit www.NavicentHealth.org.