I've yet to meet a parent who doesn't have some concerns about the time children spend in front of the television or on the computer. Whether or not parents actually do something about it is another question.

Media is so prevalent in our lives that it is difficult to avoid it completely, especially when a child's peers so engaged in it. It therefore becomes the responsibility of the parent to oversee media usage.

It seems reasonable to allow your child screen time as long as it is not excessive, especially if you counter the effects by ensuring they get away from the TV or computer regularly and go outside for some fresh air or exercise. However, new data is indicating that this may not be enough.

Psychological Consequences

A new study has determined that as little as two hours of screen time each day had a significant effect on a child's psychological well-being, predisposing them to difficulties irrespective of how physically active they were.

Psychological well-being was measured by how a child responded to questions that assessed hyperactivity as well as problems regarding their emotional state, conduct, and peer interaction.

Published Research

In the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers examined more than 1000 children between the ages of 10 and 11 years, measuring how much time they spent in front of the screen while also measuring their level of activity.

What they found was that whether a child was more sedentary or more active had no bearing on the negative effects on their behavior. In other words, being physically active did not seem to diminish the negative effects of screen time.

The findings led the authors of the study to conclude that limiting screen time may be an important part of protecting your child's overall health and well-being, an idea that is familiar to most parents.

What You Can Do

While limiting the amount of time your child spends in front of the screen is important, completely removing TV or computers from their lives is probably neither practical or, for that matter, even possible. After all, these are aspects of the modern world and in certain instances, it benefits them to be somewhat familiar with them. The choice, of course, boils down to what parents feel is right.

With this in mind, if you choose to let your kids watch TV or use the computer, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Begin Early

Establishing precedents can make a world of difference in your child's preferences and behavior, especially when it comes to less desirable activities.

2. Set Limits

But more importantly, stand by them. Kids will kick and scream to have more time, and once you let them slide, it gets harder and harder to enforce your limits.

3. Offer, Encourage (and Even Enforce) Fun Alternatives

Screen time is easy and appealing, making it the path of least resistance for both parent and child. However, that does not mean that it is the most fun. Encourage your kids to do other things, especially outside (though enforcing these activities might not always make you popular).

4. Join In

Parents can encourage kids to be more active by taking part themselves. Up to a certain age, many kids will welcome their parents' involvement, and parents can have fun with it, too.

5. Be Prepared for All Seasons

Don't let the weather stop you. Have activities planned for whatever Mother Nature has in store for your area. Playing in the rain and snow can be just as much fun as swimming or riding a bike.

6. Embrace Boredom

This is probably one of the hardest things for parents to accept, especially in the modern world of uber-parenting. Adults just seem to think that we cannot afford to let our kids be bored, and instead fill their lives with an endless stream of activities, including TV. Left to their own devices, without the help of screen time, kids will find a way to entertain themselves, and it is a great way to encourage them to use their (gulp!) imaginations.

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