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MM-2: Don’t Break the Bank!

MM-2: Don’t Break the Bank!


The average American child watches four hours of television a day, leading to inactivity and exposure to about 10,000 commercials for food (mostly high sugar and high fat items) a year.


  • My TV Bank Bucks (provided)
  • My TV Budget Sheet (provided)
  • Paper and colored pens/crayons


  1. Pass out paper and crayons and explain to children that they will be drawing characters from their favorite TV shows.
  2. Give each child a chance to name their favorite show and ask children to begin drawing a character from that show on one half of the paper.
  3. As they draw, ask children:
    • “What do you like about the show?”
    • “Do you watch a lot of other shows?”
    • “What makes your favorite show better than the others?”
    • “Do you know how long you watch TV everyday?”
  4. Write some of the reasons children give for what makes a TV show their favorite.
  5. When children are finished with their drawings, ask them if there is anything they like to do more than watch TV.
  6. Have children name things they can do instead of watching TV and ask them to draw one on the other half of the paper (give them ideas and guide them away from choosing activities like video games or watching movies).
  7. Explain to children that it is unhealthy to watch more than two hours of TV a day (see Key Talking Points below), so the group is going to play a game to see how healthy they can be.
  8. Explain to children that they are going to get a TV buck for every half-hour of TV they can watch each day (4).
  9. Explain that since they only have four TV bucks to spend a day, they should pick their favorite shows to watch, and that is called budgeting their time.
  10. Help the children fill out the My TV Budget Sheet by referring to the list you made in step 4 and give them a sheet of TV Bucks.
  11. Explain that for every half hour they spend watching TV they have to cross out one TV buck. For every day each child sticks to their budget, the group gets two points, for every TV buck they spend over their budget, the group loses a point.
  12. Add up and post the group’s points every day so that they can see their progress.
  13. Challenge children to beat their first week’s score by the end of the second week.
  14. Post the TV drawings on one side of a wall/bulletin board.


  1. Watching too much TV can be harmful to our health because it takes away from our time to be active.
  2. It’s best to choose your TV shows before you turn on the TV; don’t channel surf. If you do want to relax for a while but don’t know what’s on, set a time limit for yourself.
  3. Several studies have shown that overweight is strongly related to hours of TV viewing for both children and adults.
  4. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children watch no more than two hours of TV per day.
  5. Even when you do watch TV, there are ways to stay active. Dance while you watch your favorite music videos or get up and move during commercials (not to the refrigerator!).


  1. Recognize that watching too much TV is not part of a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Identify different ways to cut down on their TV time and still enjoy their favorite shows.
  3. Understand how to prioritize and budget their TV time.


  1. If the group is ready for a big challenge, turn TV bucks into Screen Time bucks. Challenge children to limit their time in front of a screen (TV screen, movie screen, or computer screen) to two hours a day.
  2. Send home Family Outreach Tip Sheet TS-10: Too Much Screen Time. Too many hours spent in front of the TV, video games, or the computer are not part of a healthy lifestyle; here are some ideas to keep you and your children moving!


Boston Medical Center, Nutrition and Fitness for Life Program, 2010.