Consumer Reports: Limit kids' screen time

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Screen binge-ing could lead to real health problems for your children. (WLS)

You've heard it before: Parents should set limits on how much time their kids spend in front of screens. But now the clarion call is even louder: Screen binge-ing could lead to real health problems for your children.

Consumer Reports revealed what can go wrong, and has ways to limit screen time, especially during the summer months.

Try to make eye contact with a kid and it's almost impossible. They are often looking at screens.

What looks like harmless fun could be dangerous. A recently published study found that 18 percent of 9- to 10-year-olds who spent more than three hours a day on screens could be at higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

"It makes sense if you think about it. Kids are more likely to snack mindlessly when they're in front of a screen than they are when they're outside or exercising," said Tercius Bufete, Consumer Reports Electronics Editor.

It doesn't help that screen time is often accompanied by junk-food ads. So how do you get your kids not to spend so much time in front of TV or on devices?

"Remember the old saying, 'Monkey see, monkey do?' Well, if you're doing it, it's likely your kids are too. So first, set limits on your own screen time. Then set limits for them," Bufete said.

Also, stick to them! Here are some good techniques:
-During dinner force all family members to put devices away and turn off the TV.
-Only allow screens in certain rooms, like the family room.
-Use routers like Google WiFi and Eero, which have apps you can use to block access during certain times of day.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also has a 'Media Time Calculator' which can help determine age appropriate limits for your child.

But perhaps the best way to cut back on screen time is to get your kids outside and into sports - biking, walking or just throwing a ball around.

Other things you can do which will make a difference are to have the whole family leave phones outside the bedrooms when it's time for sleep.

It's also useful to track time spent on smartphones. You can use an app called Moment and Screen Time. You might be surprised.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit

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