House Calls

SPR 2018

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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h o u s e c a l l s { spring 2018 } 29 Skewed View: According to data gathered by Common Sense Media, parents of children ages eight to 18 average nine hours and 22 minutes daily in front of screens—nearly eight of those for personal use—even though 78 percent believe themselves to be good role models in digital technology use. COULD YOU UNPLUG FOR A WEEK? April 30 through May 6, 2018 is Screen-Free Week, an annual, international event in which families, schools, and communities make a pledge to disconnect from their devices for a full week (aside from mandatory use for work and school). Originally dubbed "TV Turn-Off," the campaign was founded in 1994 and picks up steam each year. Last year, the event was endorsed by dozens of groups, from the Alliance for Early Childhood and American Academy of Pediatrics to the American Horticultural Society, American Public Health Association, and Obesity Medicine Association. You can join the effort as an individual or family, or become an organizer to spread awareness throughout your school or neighborhood. P.S.: Wondering what you'd do with all that spare time? The Screen-Free Week team's website has a few suggestions: Go swimming, fly a kite, write a letter, shoot some hoops, make cookies, have a garage sale, redecorate your house, plant a garden, go for a hike, play tag, play cards, make a fort, have a dance party, and the list goes on and on. identify people at risk for suicide based on their social media posts and then link those individuals to helpful resources," adds Dr. Gill. SEEKING BALANCE But how are we to balance the good and necessary parts of these digital tools with the dangers they present? Screens and social media are here to stay, often utterly entwined in our personal and professional lives, so a cold-turkey plug-pull on all multimedia devices does not compute. Instead, our experts recommend a controlled approach. "Designate specific periods when you won't be using screens," advises Dr. Gill, "such as during family and meal times, an hour before bed, and on car rides." Reduce access to whatever tech tool you're trying to break from by leaving it behind, storing it out of reach (like the glove compartment when driving), or shutting it off at a set time each day. For example, Dr. Abdel-Samie and her children recently committed to a family-wide media use plan that included small changes such as charging cell phones outside of bedrooms and pledging to watch movies all together. And for parents hoping to help curb their children's use of devices, the first step, say experts, is to analyze you own habits. "Kids are like sponges," says Dr. Gill. "If they see you glued to your phone or laptop, they'll want to exhibit the same behavior." When you must be situated at a computer for extended periods, be mindful of your posture and take frequent breaks— every 30 minutes or so—to stand up, move around, and allow your eyes to rest. "Set a reminder on your phone or watch," advises Dr. Abdel-Samie. And be sure to add at least 10 minutes of outdoor activities to your Google calendar then put the phone away to soak up vitamin D without distraction. Finally, commit to being present, alert, and engaged when you're socializing, and use the sight of others on their phones as a gentle reminder to keep yours away—or to shut it down, if your phone's in your hands. "Medical data shows that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier and live longer," concludes Dr. Gill. Indeed, a social network can be enhanced by physical—not always digital—connection, with experiences shared in person rather than merely on your news feed, and face time rather than FaceTime.

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