Tame the Tube and Get Moving

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

Turning off the TV is an easy way to enhance your family’s health and happiness. More screen time on television, computer, and video games has been shown to lead to higher weights for both adults and children. Screen-time is considered a contributing factor to childhood obesity. 

The Center for Disease control notes that “one-fourth of children in America spend four hours or more watching television daily and only 27 percent of students in grades 9 through 12 engage in moderate physical activity at least 30 minutes a day on five or more days of the week.”

Food is the most often advertised item on children’s television. Most of these ads are for products high in fat, sugar, or salt. Fast foods are also very heavily marketed to kids. Children who spend more time watching TV tend to eat more calories; fat, sweet, and salty snacks; and drink more soda. They also eat fewer fruits and vegetables.

Trade TV time for activity time – walk, run, bike, or play. Many of us say we don’t have time for physical activity, yet we spend 3 to 4 hours in front of the TV. Not only are we inactive while watching television, we often snack on high-calorie foods at the same time. Trade TV time for physical activity. Walk or bike with your family after dinner. By planning TV time, you’ll have more time for physical activity.

Simple solutions to help you and your family watch less television include the following:

  • Get the TV out of the bedroom.
  • Plan how much TV you and your family are going to watch.
  • Set clear limits and be a good TV role model.
  • Make a list of activities you want to do instead of watching TV.
  • Don’t keep the TV on all the time . . . tune into specific shows.
  • Eat together as a family without the TV.
  • Watch with your children. Discuss the shows and the advertising.

Screen-Free Week (formerly TV-Turnoff) is an annual celebration where children, families, schools and communities turn off screens and turn on life. Instead of relying on screens for entertainment, participants read, daydream, explore, enjoy nature, and spend time with family and friends. TV-Turnoff Week is April 18th – 24th.

Eleanor Summers
Extension Agent
Family & Consumer Sciences