As parents we can all remember a time when we said to our child, “If you finish [fill in your own activity here], you can watch TV afterwards.” It probably happened yesterday evening. However, using television, or any screen time, as incentives for your kids when they are young can make them future couch potatoes, a report out of Australia warns.
The report suggested that parents need to be stricter with rules surrounding the use of TVs, laptops, tablets and mobile phones in order to bring up their children with less dependence on them. Being glued to a screen for long periods of time increased the likelihood of the child becoming sedentary, increasing the risks of developing lifestyle diseases such as obesity.
Instead, children should be encouraged to see physical activities such as playing outside or riding a bicycle as rewards over watching a TV show or playing a computer game. Experts suggest that, from a young age, when a child does well, parents should persuade them to play a physical game or take them out for a walk in order to show positive reinforcement. Even better, participate in the activity with them, setting a good example of how breaking into a sweat can be fun. This will help them form healthy habits that will stick into adulthood if practiced consistently.
As children become older and academic pressure increases, they are likely to be less involved in activities such as sports or games. It can be convenient and easy for them to choose to spend their free time in front of a screen.
This report by the Victoria Health Department, goes hand in hand with research from others that has shown that children who have excess weight on them are more likely to be overweight adults, thereby increasing their risk of adult obesity and diseases such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
While it can be tough for parents to overcome the allure of TV and gadgets, it is in the child’s best interest to set limits and ensure that they also develop a habit of physical activity. Parents also need to make sure that enough time is set aside for them to engage in unstructured activity, physical or otherwise. In return that will boost their mood, keep their weight in check and stave off lethargy and boredom.
When was the last time you offered screen time as an incentive? Leave a comment below. Please like FamiLife’s page on Facebook so that you get all our articles and others may find us.