A young kid plays with his electronic tablet.
Are your kids zoned out in front of electronic gadgets? It may be time to mix it up with some activity. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Winter can sometimes lead to excessive screen time.

Kiddos may think it’s too cold, too snowy, or otherwise too gray to venture outside for play. So they resort to endless hours playing video games, messaging their friends, or binge-watching Spongebob Squarepants episodes.

This can be a bit of a problem.

The National Institute of Health defines screen time as activities done in front of a screen, such as playing video games, watching TV or working on a computer.

Screen time is an activity where you are sitting, using little energy and can be described as sedentary. This means that the activity burns little energy.

Why should we limit screen time?

It’s important to limit sedentary activity. To do this, it’s important to limit screen time.

Children who get too much screen time can have trouble sleeping at night and have a higher risk for anxiety, attention problems or depression. This can cause your child to have trouble paying attention and behaving while they’re at school.

These children are also at a higher risk of gaining too much weight, too quickly, thus leading to obesity.

What are the recommendations?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, today’s children are spending an average of seven hours or more each day on media, including cell phones, computers, video games, iPods and tablets.

Children younger than 2 years old should have no screen time. Children older than 2 should have two hours or less. This includes all media combined.

Screen time for learning is still considered sedentary time and should still be monitored and limited.

How can I help my child?

There are many ways to work with your child to reduce screen time. First, talk to them about why you’re monitoring screen time and the health benefits of doing other activities.

Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics has made these recommendations:

  • Remove the TV or computer from your child’s bedroom.
  • Do not let your child eat while watching TV or using the computer.
  • Decide which programs to watch ahead of time. Then, turn off the TV when those programs are over.
  • Suggest other activities, such as family walks, bowling, roller skating or shooting hoops at the local gym.
  • Be a good role model as a parent. Decrease your own screen time to two hours a day.