Screen-Free Week (formerly TV Turnoff Week -- May 1-7. Woman's Day offers these tips to help your family tune out:
  • Start small -- incremental reductions are better than none at all, says Robert Hancox, M.D., a researcher at New Zealand's University of Otago who has studied the long term effects of excessive television viewing on kids. 
  • Make a plan -- sit down as a family and choose programs in advance to cut down on mindless channel surfing. 
  • Banish bedroom sets -- a recent study found that third graders who had TVs in their bedrooms scored much lower on standardized test than their peers who didn't. 
  • Try technology -- install a device that automatically turns off the TV when your child's "time budget" expires. 
  • Be strict early -- The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children under 2 watch no television at all. Bonus: Kids who watch little or not TV as toddlers may be more accepting of restrictions later on. 
  • Eat away from the television -- not only can the tube limit dinner table conversation, it's been show to "hypnotize" viewers into eating more. 
  • No parking in front of the TV -- rather than sitting kids in front of the television while you do chores, ask them to help. It will decrease tube time and make helping a habit.


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