Research continues to confirm what many parents already know: Too much sitting in front of the TV, video game system, computer, and/or smartphone is linked to higher body mass index (BMI) in children, which is another way of saying it’s linked to childhood obesity. And childhood obesity raises the risk of adult obesity and the health problems that it can cause, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Limiting kids’ screen time is a big job. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, children ages 8-18 spend an average 7½ hours every day in front of a screen for entertainment. More than half of that is spent watching TV. And that doesn’t include time spent in front of a computer during school or doing homework.
Time spent in front of a screen is time that kids could spend being physically active. The American Cancer Society recommends children and teens get at least 1 hour of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity each day, with vigorous activity on at least 3 days each week. Vigorous activities make your heart beat and breathing faster, and make you sweat. Examples include jogging, aerobic dance, fast biking, jumping rope, swimming, and playing sports such as soccer, lacrosse, singles tennis, and basketball.
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