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Experts Offer Tips to Cut Kids' Screen Time During Summer

SATURDAY, July 28 (HealthDay News) -- Lots of parents would like to avoid having their kids spend the summer watching television or playing video games.

According to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, reducing the amount of time spent in front of a computer or TV can boost health and happiness, prompting families to do more physical activity and get creative in finding other ways to spend their time.

The nonprofit organization, which was formed to combat childhood obesity, offered tips to cut down on screen time:

  • Schedule screen time. Decide in advance what shows will be watched, what video games will be played or how much Internet time is allowed.
  • Keep track. Have children write down the amount of time they spend in front of the TV or a computer screen. If they realize they are spending more time in front of a screen than they thought, they may be motivated to change their habits.
  • Be positive. Set goals for reducing screen time and offer rewards for reaching them.
  • Do something else. Go outside, join a club, play a sport, get a hobby.
  • Designate screen-free time. Don't turn on the TV first thing in the morning. Turn off the TV during dinner. Instead, eat outside or have a family talk. Remove electronics from bedrooms.
  • Put electronics away. Try storing all electronics in one room for an entire day and not touching them, or cover screens to help you forget about them.
  • Read instead. Take the kids to the library. Allow children to stay up 15 minutes past their bedtime as a reward for reading.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on how to reduce screen time.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: Alliance for a Healthier Generation, news release, July 5, 2012

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