Mouse arms and tablet necks: How do children get through the Corona screen time? | NOW

Limit screen time and go outside a lot with the kids. Even before the corona crisis, it was a spearhead of the World Health Organization. Now that we’re inside more than ever, we can use some creativity. Some chalks on the sidewalk, tables practice on the stairs and outside with the whole family. Yolanda van Hoorn suggests that van meet Zit Pit.

For a healthy mind and body, children need to exercise moderately to intensively an average of one hour a day. Sitting too much leads to increased obesity, poorer cardiometabolic health, decreased fitness, poor sleep and behavioral problems, according to the WHO.

  • According to the WHO, screen time for children between the ages of two and five should be limited to a maximum of one hour per day, e.g. B. TV, computer games on tablets and phone calls.
  • The organization did not set a deadline for children over the age of five, but did formulate new guidelines for sedentary behavior for everyone over the age of five: limit as much as possible. Screen time is often sedentary, writes the WHO, and that is not recommended.
  • The Health Council also issued guidelines in 2017: Don’t let children sit too much, get at least an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.

So move a lot. But these are extraordinary times with many children being educated remotely, online, or other on-screen ways. According to Juana Willumsen, exercise expert at the WHO, there are still no good data on what these corona months do to children.

“Early signs suggest that children and adults are less active, and this is very important.”

Juana Willumsen, WHO

The ball is in the hands of parents and schools

Willumsen: “Early signs suggest that children and adults are less active, and this is of great concern. Right now, parents and schools play an important role. They need to make sure that their children take breaks and are physically active. Some schools offer Online services. Take activity breaks or physical education classes, but the whole family will benefit from being as active as possible for better mental and physical health. “

Going outside with your kids isn’t a punishment, it’s a reward, says Van Hoorn. A few years ago she founded Zit met Pit, with whom she advises schools and parents on sports lessons for children.

Van Hoorn is a physiotherapist and has seen many children with posture problems and shoulder and pain problems. “The neck of the tablet is often mentioned. These problems manifest themselves in less good development of motor skills.”

To help children stay active:

  • From time to time, allow children to look at the screen with the tablet on their stomach on the floor. For example, they train their neck and back muscles and the screen is at the right distance.
  • Make schoolwork an active game, suggests Van Hoorn. Glue the result of the 7-fold table onto the steps and let the children walk to the correct answer. Go on a scavenger hunt around the house and hide the capital cities. “Children really scream for exercise.”
  • The online platform Wieblie is full of moving learning tasks and has temporarily made them available free of charge.
  • Place the laptop on a box or stack of books so that children can stand up and look at it instead of hanging their heads.
  • Also, use a ball instead of a chair: wobbling is good.
  • You can practice arithmetic with a game of hopscotch, and writing words doesn’t have to be done in a notebook, but can be done in the street with chalk on the sidewalk.

Children are less likely to be found outdoors than in the past, and screens play an important role in relaxation. The fact that education currently also takes place via a screen doesn’t change the fact that many children still find relaxation in a video or on the PlayStation, says Van Hoorn.

“The word screen time now has a negative connotation, something that should be limited. It should be, but balance it out and emphasize positivity as well as prohibition.”

Tablet has only been around for ten years

Go outside together for at least an hour after school, says Van Hoorn. “Set a good example as a parent. You can’t tell your kids to stop playing while you scroll through your phone all day.” Reaching the physical activity guideline of one hour a day stands or falls on the efforts of parents. “Playing outside for an hour can easily be included in the daily schedule, which prevents discussion.”

Van Hoorn says about the nuance: “Do not forget that the tablet has only existed for ten years and that the smartphone has only been available to most people since 2007. It is logical that children are often better at using it than parents. Perhaps it is clear that games can be educational and that screens also provide entertainment. “