You are remarkably blessed if you have a daughter/son aged anywhere between 5-15 years who spends time playing outdoor games, riding bicycle or enjoys walking down the greener paths with a bunch of friends who talk avidly about interesting things in life. That’s because, many kids in this age roam around with a smartphone/tablet in hand or spend time watching television. Such actions and device-free play times are not coincidental but the results of constantly preaching, practicing and patronizing limited screen-time.
Nowadays, its not surprising to find even 7- or 8-year old children complaining of fatigue and tiredness even before completing two or three rounds of jogging/running in the school playground. Kids these days are well-adjusted to the comfortable lifestyle provided by parents. All their requirements are fulfilled even before they are required to ask for it owing to many single-child families where the child becomes the center of attention of the entire family. Most families have both, mom and dad working and this leaves the child at the mercy of grandparents, caretakers, friends or electronic gadgets. Caretakers can never replace the love and warmth of parents as most of them only discharge their duties without any passion or interest towards what they do. Grandparents shower their love on grandchildren, but age restriction does not permit them to play to the whims and fancies of small kids. Finally, these kids divert all their attention towards electronic gadgets such as smartphones, tablets and television.
Electronic Gadgets & Obesity
Sedentary behavior (SB) such as watching television, playing video games and other screen-related activities are primary contributors of decreased physical activities in kids and this sedentary behavior is linked with overweight/obesity in young people. Parenting norms and the society around can affect a child’s SB. When parents strictly warn their kids against watching TV/playing games for not more than 2 hours in a day, one study found that this reduced SB by 8 min/day and decreased screen time by almost 38 min/day.
Almost all 5- to 8-year-old kids spend more than three hours a day watching television or using smartphones while many of them even have their own smartphones. There is another study from 2014 that shows that teenagers who spent their significant portion of available time watching television, playing video games or fidgeting with smartphones were highly likely to grow into obese young adults who are prone to diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
If you are burdened by the thought of telling ‘no’ to television or smartphones, don’t worry. Kids these days are extremely smart and are capable enough to divert their attention towards some other activity that interests them. Of course, this activity would be much better and healthier than watching TV or playing games.
If you are still not sure about the staggering side effects of social media and smartphone use, recent research has revealed that children are becoming weaker, less muscular with decreasing grip ability and strength. They are able to do lesser number of sit-ups continuously or hang for lesser time periods from wall bars in gyms. For a complete picture on the devastating effects of electronic gadgets on children’s health, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com.
Early day games or fun activities included climbing trees, swimming across ponds and playing hopscotch. Although these games might include falling off a branch or bruising your knees, all these serve as quick lessons to pick yourself up and try again, climb better or run faster. But, many schools or parents themselves prevent their kids from engaging in such activities owing to fear of pain or bruise.
Start the Practice
Parents train kids to do daily activities and teach them what’s right and what’s wrong. Likewise, why aren’t parents taking up limiting screen time too as a challenging task and finish it successfully? Some suggestions given here can help parents in this regard:
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.