“World Sight Day: Balancing Screen Time and Nourishing Meals for Children – Tips for Creating Relaxing and Enjoyable Mealtimes”


Introduction: Screen time and growth

As children grow, their eating habits can change, often making it a challenge to feed them. It’s not uncommon to witness kids consuming meals in front of the TV, tablet, or mobile phone. While it may seem like a convenient way to ensure they eat, numerous studies suggest that this practice has its downsides.

Screen Time and Meals for Kids

On World Sight Day, we take a closer look at the relationship between screen time and children’s meals. Susmita N, a Clinical Nutritionist at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals in Bangalore, Bellandur, and Jayanagar, shared valuable insights during an interview with HT Lifestyle.

Screen time

Screen Time and Experts

Sushmita recommended, “As children grow, it’s essential to allow them to serve and feed themselves. This approach helps them understand their body’s cues. Eating while watching screens can be distracting, leading them to pay less attention to the food on their plates, its texture, and the quantity they consume. It’s also observed that kids who eat while watching screens tend to snack more on unhealthy junk food between meals because they can’t recall how much they ate during the main meal. This often results in inadequate intake of vegetables and fruits.”

Furthermore, Susmita pointed out that children exposed to excessive screen time are more susceptible to the allure of junk food advertised to young audiences. She noted, “Kids are drawn to these junk food commercials and develop a craving for them, which can alter their dietary preferences. Encouraging children to engage in outdoor activities enhances their appetite and makes them more receptive to the foods served. Parents can capitalize on this by offering healthy alternatives as snacks, such as fruits, milkshakes, smoothies, roasted nuts mixes, or makhana, which provide nutritional value. Keeping a stock of healthy snack options at home is a good strategy.”

Susmita emphasized the importance of family dynamics during mealtime, stating, “Family plays a crucial role during mealtimes. Parents should set an example for their children. Having distraction-free family meals fosters better eating habits, communication skills, and stronger bonds. Research has shown that children who dine with their families have a more balanced intake of vegetables and fruits and tend to develop healthier eating patterns. There is a positive correlation between family meals and improved cognitive skills in children, ultimately leading to enhanced academic performance.”

To ensure mealtime is as relaxing and enjoyable as possible, Susmita N provided the following tips:

  1. Offer wholesome and appealing foods.
  2. Respect your child’s appetite; don’t force them to finish what’s on their plate if they claim to be full.
  3. Provide healthy options and let children choose from two or more nutritious foods.
  4. Avoid nagging, bribing, or coercion when it comes to eating; children tend to dislike foods they are forced to eat.
  5. Keep electronic screens out of the dining area.
  6. Engage in age-appropriate conversations with your children, discussing their day, friends, and topics of interest.
  7. Plan tomorrow’s meals with your child’s food preferences in mind.
  8. Be a role model by practicing what you preach and avoid distractions while feeding your kids.
  9. Pre-plan meals a day in advance, including three main meals and two nutritious snacks, ensuring a variety of grains, colorful vegetables, seasonal fruits, and protein sources.
  10. Limit screen time after meals.


In conclusion, Susmita N highlighted the potential negative consequences of excessive screen time, such as poor psycho-social skills, lower cognitive development, reduced physical activity, metabolic issues, and childhood obesity. Over time, these childhood habits may persist into adulthood, leading to eating disorders and obesity.

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