NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


| Share

When Less is Better

When Less is Better

            Is your family addicted to watching Survivor, or captivated with video games and the Internet?  On the average, American children ages 2 to 17 watch 25 hours of television, play seven hours of video games, and engage in four hours of Internet in a week.  

            If you think your family could benefit from less TV watching, you don't need to go to the extreme of tossing the television set out the window. Just cutting back on the hours your television is turned on can have a surprising effect.

             As the hours spent watching TV increase, so does the likelihood of obesity among children and adolescents. Researchers are discovering that the percentage of body fat increases along with the number of hours spent in front of the tube – and that obesity is lower among children who watch television for one hour or less a day. The risk actually increases almost two percent for each additional hour watched! If you’ve decided to turn off the TV, the computer, the I Pod, the video game player here are some ideas to spark your imagination:


Plan a Weekly Game Night

Choose games that the whole family can play. Games like musical chairs, hot potato, and a scavenger hunt are old-time favorites that kids still like. Board games and card games are another option. Depending on how old the children are, family members may have several games going on at the same time.

Try an Arts and Crafts Day

This activity is especially fun for young children. Gather art supplies like paper, crayons, markers, watercolor paints, glitter, old pieces of fabric, glue, large paper sacks, and even worn-out socks. Encourage children to create pictures, sock puppets, masks, or anything else that they want.

Plan Physical Fitness Time

Choose an activity that the whole family can do together. When the weather is nice, take a bike ride or a walk around the neighborhood. For the indoor days, dance or do stretching exercises to fun music.

Have a Cookie Bake-Off

This tradition appeals to kids of all ages... even teens – and you’ll end up with some delicious treats, Try a new recipe, a new flavor or a new shape of a favorite food that was originally called “little cakes’. 

            Get a library card for each member of the family and become regular visitors there. Get to know your local independent bookseller - he or she will be a big help in finding books to keep your family entertained. Set aside time every evening and weekend for family reading. Pass out the pillows and get cozy with some good books.

Go Outside
Put on your snow boots, throw on a coat, open your door and go outside. If you have young children at home, make a point to get outdoors at least once a day unless there's dangerous weather or the kids are sick. For a two-for-one activity, take your camera along.

Write a short story with each family member contributing. Put together some funny poems. Write letters to relatives who don’t do email or facebook.

Solve a Puzzle
Clear off the dining-room table and set up a jigsaw puzzle that's challenging but fun for the whole family. You may be surprised at how often you'll find one of the kids has wandered in there and is looking for the spot for that one piece. Keep some Mad Libs, word searches and Sodoku puzzles in the house.

Bring Back Family Dinners

Head to the grocery store and get all of the ingredients your family needs for its favorite dinner. Cook together –let the children stir, set the table and light the candles. Sing while you cook – see how many verses you can make up to “She’ll Be Coming ’Round the Mountain.” It doesn’t have to be fancy to be fun – these are the times our children will remember.


Applaud Others

See a live theater production or concert – our community offers a wide variety of affordable, family-friendly entertainment.  


Help Others

Find a community service project that your entire family can support – community gardens, community clean-up projects, nursing homes and more welcome the whole family. We all benefit tremendously when we open our hearts to help others.


Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.