Summer time is here and one of the things that often flies through the roof in many households is TV time. Actually, I should say TV time, computer time, cell phone time, or maybe just device time. It’s all in front of a screen, and it all could be killing your child’s brain cells or even his/her life!
You ready for a few wow-ing statistics about screen time?
- Children’s overall screen time has more than doubled since 1999 to more than seven hours a day (as quoted from WebMD).
- Medline Plus breaks it down even further–Most American children spend about 3 hours a day watching TV. Added together, all types of screen time can total 5 to 7 hours a day.
- Two much screen time is closely linked to obesity, irregular sleep, behavioral issues, violence, and lower academic excellence (says the Mayo Clinic).
- The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than age 2 and recommends limiting older children’s screen time to no more than one or two hours a day.
- One country has even made excessive screen time illegal! Taiwanese lawmakers approved the “Child and Youth Welfare and Protection Act,” which expanded existing legislation to allow the government to fine parents of children under the age of 18 who are using electronic devices for extended periods of times (say Time Magazine)
- In two years, the number of children ages 0-8 who own mobile devices has double from 38% to 72% (says Common Sense Media)!
- There’s evidence that excessive marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages on television contributes to the TV–obesity link (says Harvard School of Public Health).
- Watching TV or playing computer games for more than two hours a day is related to greater psychological difficulties irrespective of how active children are (says CNet).
- A Psychology Today study shares the result that excessive screen-time appears to impair brain structure and function.
- According to the study conducted by a group of international researchers, anyone who devotes more than four hours daily on screen-based entertainment such as TV, video games or surfing the web, ups their risk of heart attack and stroke by 113 percent and the risk of death by any cause by nearly 50 percent compared to those who spend less than two hours daily in screen play — and this is regardless of whether or not they also work out (says ABC News).
- Researchers found that blood levels of C-reactive protein — a marker of inflammation — was twice as high in people who spent more than four hours of time in front of a screen than people who spent less than two (says Live Science).
In the summertime kids are home, and there is more time to kill. As such the number of hours a child spends in front of a screen often increases from lack of structure as much as anything.
My family was beginning to have this issue a few months ago, and we began using Tube Time Tickets to control our screen use. The results have been phenomenal.
Our Tube Time Ticket Rules
- Each child is given 14 tickets for a week which equals 1 hour of screen time per day.
- Each child may use up to 4 tickets in a single day (or 2 hours of tube time).
- Tube tickets cannot be combined or exchanged. If you are in front of a screen you must pay with YOUR tube tickets. Tip: Print the tickets on different colors of paper for each child so they cannot be exchanged or stolen.
This means that there are some days that the girls will not watch TV. On others they may watch a movie, but overall they are not playing games or watching TV more than 14 hours a week.
We first began this system several months ago when I realized that the girls were having too much screen time between iPad apps and morning cartoons. Thus, I knew we had to get our screen time under control.
Once we began implementing the Tube Time Tickets, it was amazing how quickly the girls began to budget their time better. In fact, within a couple of weeks we were noticing more and more tube time tickets left in the can at the end of the week as the screens became less and less of a “thing to do.”
Now screens are usually reserved for travel or while mom is exercising which helps keep it in control even more. That said, should tube time become an issue again, these are the first thing I’ll be pulling out!