Screen Time and Marketing to Kids

Young Children Watching Television at Home

Watching TV, playing computer or video games, and spending time online for fun not only wastes precious time that could be better spent with family and friends or independently, reading and doing homework, but it’s also time that could be used for exercising. Children who watch more than four hours of TV per day are more likely to be overweight or obese in comparison to their peers. This is mainly due to the fact that many TV channels, internet sites, and social media networks are filled with junk food advertisements targeted at children. Below you will find:

Out of School Time

Out of School Nutrition and Physical Activity (OSNAP)                     

OSNAP LogoAn initiative designed to develop healthy habits related to healthy foods, drinks, and physical activity through sustainable policy and environmental strategies during out of school time programs.

OSNAP promotes the following screen time goals:
Eliminate use of commercial broadcast TV/movies
Limit computer and digital device time to educational or instructional only

OSNAP Tools for change:

Tip Sheet: Turn Off That Screen!

Fast Map for Reducing Screen Time

Policy Writing Guide to lay out your program rules for screen time

Food & Fun

foodfunveggies-kidslogoA curriculum designed to assist program staff in providing healthier environments to children during out-of-school time. Food & Fun Afterschool includes 11 teaching units that use both lessons and activities to encourage healthy behaviors through active play, literacy and math skills development, creative learning, and hands-on snack time activities.

Unit 8: Tune Out TV

Curriculum Training Resources


Eat Well & Keep Moving

EatWellKeepMoving3rdE_Cover_TiltedAn interdisciplinary elementary school program designed to promote healthful eating and physical activities in school, home, and community environments.

Sample Lesson: Healthy Living

Planet Health

An interdisciplinary curriculum focused on improving the health and well-being of sixth through eighth grade students while building and reinforcing skills in language arts, math, science, social studies, and physical education.

Sample Lesson: What could you do instead of watching TV?

Tip Sheet: Take Control of TV (and other screen time)

Television and Screen Time Reduction Resources


Food & Fun & Family

Food Fun FamilyLearning healthy behaviors begins at home. As a parent or guardian, you have the greatest influence over the foods your child eats and the activities that they do when out of school. The goal of Food, Fun & Family is to help busy parents provide a healthier home environment for their children.

Food & Fun & Family provides resources for the following screen time goals:
Limit screen time (TV, video games, computer) to less than 2 hours each day.
Do not allow TV sets in children’s bedrooms.

Outsmarting the Smart Screens

OutsmartingSmartScreenGraphicWe frequently hear from parents about the challenges of limiting the amount of time children spend in front of the television, computers, video games, smartphones, and tablets. Technology can be educational and fun. But, children are spending more and more time in front of all these different screens. Too much exposure can have a negative effect on their eating habits, schoolwork, and sleep. Healthy kids need healthy limits on their screen time. This packet shares a few creative tips we’ve heard from parents about this issue, and guide parents through some tools the may be useful when you want help locktimesturning the screens off completely.

Lockwork is an easy-to-use mobile phone app that allows you to set restrictions on how long your child can use their phone each day. You can also set up the phone to be locked during specific hours. During locked times, your child cannot use their phone except to call an emergency number or one of the contacts you’ve added.

Communities and Decision Makers

Scientific Publications

Taveras EM, Hohman KH, Price S, Gortmaker SL, Sonneville K. Televisions in the bedrooms of racial/ethnic minority children – how did they get there and how do we get them out? Clin Pediatr. 2009 Sep;48(7):715-9. Epub 2009 May 6.

Gortmaker SL. Innovations to reduce television and computer time and obesity in childhood. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008 Mar;162(3):283-4.

Miller SA, Taveras EM, Rifas-Shiman SL, Gillman MW. Association between television viewing and poor diet quality in young children. Int J Pediatr Obes. 2008 Mar 4:1-9.

Taveras EM, Sandora TJ, Shih MC, Ross-Degnan D, Goldmann DA, Gillman MW. The association of television and video viewing with fast food intake by preschool-age children. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006 Nov;14(11):2034-41.

Wiecha JL, Peterson KE, Ludwig DS, Kim J, Sobol A, Gortmaker SL. When children eat what they watch: impact of television viewing on dietary intake in youth. Arch Pediatr Adolec Med. 2006 Apr;106(4): 436–42.

Boynton-Jarrett R, Thomas TN, Peterson KE, et al. Impact of television viewing patterns on fruit and vegetable consumption among adolescents. Pediatrics. 2004 Dec;112: 1321–1326.

Other Resources