FOX Medical: How to curb couch potato kids - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

FOX Medical: How to curb couch potato kids

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ATLANTA -

If you are a parent, you know kids just don't play like they used to. All the new technology out there is making it tough to get them off the sofa, but what can you do with a couch potato kid?

Kids spend an average of four and a half hours a day in front of a screen watching TV, on the computer or playing video games.

It doesn't take a fancy gym or a pricey trainer for kids to get a workout, they just need a place to play.

"Grownups go and we do boot camp, we do things like run and jump, and lift weights. Well that's what kids are doing on the playground, right? They're running up the slide, they're sliding down They're going across monkey bars," says Dr. Stephanie Walsh.

And Dr. Walsh, Medical Director of Child Wellness at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, says starting at the age of two, kids need about sixty minutes of playtime a day.

"So just take them anywhere they can go and be active, and kids will do it," says Dr. Walsh.

But what can you do with a kid who won't come out and play?


"If they're doing things, like playing video games, well, you know what? You're their parent, and you're in charge of whether or not they get to play video games. So you get to turn them off. And you get to limit screen time.  And you get to suggest outside activities," says Dr. Walsh.

You could negotiate a trade-off such as for every 30 minutes of screen time, 30 minutes of playtime.

"I think that's the best part about working with children, is that they love to play, and they love to play outside. So help your kid find something that they love," says Dr. Walsh.

Walsh says that the key is letting your child choose which way to play.

"So really brainstorm with your kids. Be their cheerleader. Say, hey, what can we do to help you? What do you want to do? Let's try some different classes, I'll go with you," says Walsh.

If you're worried your child isn't getting enough exercise or maybe struggling with a weight problem, Dr. Walsh advises to ask their pediatrician for some help. Children's has a program that involves the entire family in helping kids get healthier.

And sitting down together at dinner, without any screens on, is fantastic. It does more for your children than just provide a healthy meal; it really is a great time for conversation. You talk about school and friends. And it really brings families together in a positive way.

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