Mother sitting next to her daughter in front of a computer.

Can Sports Help Kids Reduce Hours of Screen Time?

by Screen Time Team on 13/05/2020

We all know that too much sitting is bad for us. We have watches that encourage us to get up and move, standing desks to keep us from sitting too long, and even more tools. Yet what’s true for adults is also true for kids, and sports and outdoor activities can help reduce screen time.

Sitting and Screen Time

It’s worth recalling that we ask kids to sit quite a bit. Depending on who you ask, kids sit for between 3 to 4.5 hours on an average school day, and while schools will break this up with activity periods and walking to and from classes, that’s still quite a bit of seated time. Similarly, they have homework to do, meals to eat with the family, and other time spent sitting, which can add up to a majority of the time spent in a sedentary position.

Video games, social apps, and other downtime treats can also lead to sitting. In this, kids are really only taking our lead. So that’s where solutions should begin.

Set Family Rules

There’s nothing wrong with sitting down some of the time, in fact, increasingly it appears that the idea is to change positions often between walking, sitting, standing, and reclining. Your family rules should aim to achieve some form of balance.

For example, you might set a rule where outdoor activity and chores, which can be surprisingly active, earn screen time, and the more time spent away from screens, the more they can earn. Or you can simply lead by example; see how you can phase more sitting out of your life, like taking a bike to the coffee shop or to run small errands instead of a car, or walking where you can.

Monitor Overall Screen Time

Data can help you make decisions, so set up third-party parental control apps and other monitoring tools to track how much time your family spends sitting. Remember that transparency is key if you’re going to monitor activity. You should be upfront about what you’re doing and why, and allow boundaries to be drawn when necessary; teens on the cusp of becoming adults will need more space than tweens or young children.

Smiling family forming a circle.

Create Opportunities

Kids can only be active if they have the chance and interest. Remember that everyone’s different; some of us enjoy a contemplative hike through the woods, while others want to get involved in team sports. Give your children a range of opportunities to explore so they can get a sense of what they enjoy and what they want to do. This has the bonus of building their social skills and giving them interests other than screens.

Remember Down Time Is Important

Kids need downtime just like adults do. They can feel tired, out of sorts, or just not up to heading outside for strenuous activities. Or they could be absorbed in a good book they want to finish. Make space in the rules for just simple downtime, so kids don’t feel overscheduled or pushed into activities. Among other things, it may make them want to push back.

Giving kids opportunities beyond screens helps keep them in shape and gets them outside. To learn how a third-party parental control app can help, try it for free!

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