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With the influx of new technologies, children and adolescents are spending more time than ever surfing the web, playing with their tablets and smartphones,  instant messaging and texting, playig gvideo games, and watching TV shows and movies both on TV, and other streaming devices.  This means that instead of engaging in physical activity , they are engaging only in the virtual kind. Most recent studies show that this has had a detrimental effect on our nation's youth.

A recent study reveals that youth between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of 7 hours a day using a form of entertainment media. However, according to  recent recommendations by the American Acadmeny of Pediatrics, children and adolescents should limit media screentime to less than 2 hours per day, and engage in more physical activity.

Moderate physical activity for children and adolescents is important because it increases and regulates energy levels, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol and glucose levels, enhances heart and lung function, and strengthens bones. There are some added benefits that include improving one's self esteem and body image, reducing depression and  anxiety, improving sleep quality and contributing to increases in positive academic performances.​

So how can parents encourage kids to spend less time with their video games and more time engaged in physical activities? Here are some suggestions.

Limit your child's Internet access, time with their portable devices and television.

If you set rules about time spend surfing the web or watching television, your child will be more likely to engage in physical aciivity or look for other, more healthy ways of entertaining themselves. Establishing set boundaries and access restrictions will prevent arguments in the future.

Encourage team sports or extracurricular activities.

Not only does being part of a team or club boost self-esteem, it also promotes healthy activities and opens doors for your child to learn new things. Playing organized sports allows your child to have a social outlet, make friends with children that have the same interests and relieve the stress from the rigors of classroom life. Many schools have active sports programs that take place after school, and are free of charge​. Do your research!

Be a role model.

Find  ways in which you can participate in physical activity with your child, such as walking with them to school or playing catch. Institute a family night where once a week you do some form of physical activity with your child, such as bike riding or ice skating. This is an excellent opportunity to exemplify a healthy lifestyle, and also get  to know your child.

Incorporate chores with exercise.

If your child works for an allowance, incorporate chores that are physical in nature, such as walking the dog, mowing the lawn or yard work.

Although the media world can be a tempting solution to the chaos of family life, letting it control your family is equally damaging. Providing your child with an energy outlet by encouraging their participation in physical activities, while instilling in them the value of a healthy lifestyle will help further your personal relationships and create a serene situation at home.

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