Physician: Kids likely to mirror parents' screen time habits

Dr. Clark Andelin plays the ukelele with his son. KRCG.

May is Screen Free Month, and doctors say when it comes to technology use, kids are likely to mimic their parents' habits.

In this week's Family First segment, KRCG 13 talked with SSM Health physician and OBGYN Dr. Clark Andelin about the importance of parents' setting the standard for screen time behavior.

"Developing your interests, developing your talents, developing more meaningful relationships with people, exercise, fresh air, health and wellness, they're all positives that start to come to the surface with less screen time," Dr. Andelin said.

Dr. Andelin said it's a choice that has to start at the top, and it's not always an easy one for parents to make.

"I can get drawn into checking up on the news or checking up on the stock market or something like that," he said. "I realized there's a tremendous amount of time that accumulates while I'm doing that, that has very little meaning in my life."

Dr, Andelin said it was that realization that inspired him to make more conscious choices about his free time.

"One of the things I've started to do is studying other languages, spending a little bit of time each week devoted to studying language," he said. " I've also started practicing the ukulele, it's something I've always wanted to do."

Dr. Andelin said helping kids choose alternative activities to screen time is a lot like encouraging the choice of vegetables over sweets - it's all about availability.

"If all you have around is Poptarts, then they're not going to be able to eat anything healthier," he said. "So give them a reasonable option. Something that tastes good actually."

Dr. Andelin said musical instruments or different languages might not be every kid's cup of tea, but there's something out there for everyone.

He suggested starting by finding out what you enjoy in place of screen time - you may just inspire your kids to do the same along the way.

Watch KRCG 13 next Friday at 5 p.m. for our next Family First segment. We'll talk with a pediatrician about the Importance of consistent helmet use during outdoor activities like bike riding this summer.

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