Today’s society is ‘infected’ by progress. With all the benefits that advanced technology brings to the table, there’s always the other side of the coin which, unfortunately, people somehow avoid to acknowledge. Unlike the Millennials (people born between the 1980s and mid-1990s) who had the opportunity to grow up without technology (to a point), today’s children and teens got their hands on smartphones and computers at a very early age.
The result? Failing to develop the most basic social skills, having weak limbs, and becoming obese. Obese children are at higher risk for various chronic health conditions, Can we even stress the importance of the youth getting outside enough? The outdoors is a great place to explore, create an adventure, but it also offers significant benefits to our children’s health.
Children are Becoming Increasingly Obese
In the U.S., about 13% of children are considered obese or overweight, and the number is continuing to rise. The reasons for this vary, and include unhealthy eating habits, lack of physical activity, genetic predispositions, or the combination of these factors. These kids are at high risk of becoming obese adults, making them more prone to develop chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as low self-esteem and stress later in life. Today, children spend a lot of their time being inactive, watching television and playing video and computer games.
Childhood Obesity and Technology
Twenty years ago, when kids were bored, they used to go outside and play. In safer, more innocent times, parents would insist on it! Today, they often hang on their smartphones or computers to have fun. But sitting for hours in front of a screen doesn’t burn many calories. Rather than playing any physical games, kids tend to lead an inactive and sedentary lifestyle. In some children, obesity can also lead to psychological issues – stress, depression, and boredom can make them eat more to cope with negative emotions.
According to research published in Pediatrics, “Screen Media Exposure and Obesity in Children and Adolescents,” many studies have shown that there’s a strong relationship with obesity and screen time. The Daily Telegraph reports that children spend most of their day engaging with digital media and recommended that the time should be reduced to 90 minutes per day. According to this 2017 study, children’s exposure to TV has reached an average of 7.25 hours per day. The time kids spend on technology is alarmingly high. Some researchers even claim that technology can be as addictive as heroin.
The Solution for Childhood Obesity
A child’s healthy development involves engagement with the real world, creative, imaginative play, and social interaction. The key is to prevent the children from getting hooked on technology in the first place by limiting their screen time and engaging in fun, physical activities. It starts with the parents as they are the ones who should set an example. Developing outdoor skills is also one of the essential elements in preventing obesity in today’s youth. Outdoor education is there to:
If you’re looking for ideas on how to get your kids and teens to enjoy the Great Arizona Outdoors, please contact us