he topic of dieting is very popular in media. Everywhere we look someone is trying to sell a diet: eat carbohydrates, don’t eat carbohydrates, loose weight without exercising. What if we applied this concept to media itself? Maybe Americans do need to go on a diet--a media diet.
Did you know that screen time is highly discouraged for children under the age of two? (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011). Some studies show that excess screen time is a factor in childhood obesity (White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, 2010). Other studies show that TV could possibly contribute to ADHD (Christakis, 2004). With all this research against screen time and media, why does the average child still have two to three hours of screen time a day (Vandewater and Lee, 2009)?
Given the extensive research pointing to excessive media use among children, maybe we need to take a bit of a media diet. Cut back on how much screen time is in our day. There are many other activities that families could do together besides watching television or playing with mobile devices and video games. Try exploring a puzzle, play a board game, read together, spend some time together in the kitchen, do a craft, create a work of art, or talk about your day. This does not even include all the wonderful activities the outdoors offers: go on a bike ride, take a family walk, visit your local park, play a sport, or get your hands dirty in the garden. All of these activities provide cognitive, physical, social/emotional, and language benefits for your child. Plus, they will help you become a closer family. If you normally watch three hours of television, why not try taking one of those hours to do a family activity?