Energizing Couch Potatoes
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“Energizing Couch Potatoes,” Ensign, Jan. 2008, 74

Energizing Couch Potatoes

Kathryn Palmer, Colorado

Are your children couch potatoes? Ours used to be—until my husband and I came up with a plan. We decided to allot each child one “free” hour of computer, television, or video-game time a day. They can mix and match these activities if they want to, but if they watch a sibling doing any of these things, that counts for their hour. After they have used their free hour, our children can then earn up to another hour for that day by engaging in other healthy or useful activities. For instance, they can provide an hour of service for another family member to earn 15 extra minutes. Practicing the piano a half hour beyond the regular practice time earns another 15 minutes. Hour-long activities such as exercising or playing outdoors, reading a book, or playing constructively with a friend are also encouraged. They can earn an extra hour in 15-minute increments, but we limit computer and TV time to two hours a day maximum.

How do we keep track of it all? Initially we made a chart to record the 15-minute earnings, but we soon switched to the honor system. In fact, our children seem to enjoy the constructive activities so much that they sometimes accrue TV time and don’t bother to use it!

By earning TV and computer time, our children have become more conscious of how they spend their time overall. Now they tend to choose activities that strengthen them—mentally and physically.

Left: Illustration by Joe Flores