Seeing this picture of these two adorable children completely passive but thoroughly engaged in media made me very sad. I want to see them running outside, exploring nature, flying kites, looking for bugs, anything but being mesmorized by a tv screen.  The effects of a global pandemic, of course, has added to this as children have been forced to sit in front of a screen in order to take part in a classroom setting.  My own grandchildren have let me know how difficult this has been for them.  Thankfully it will be back to normal for the upcoming school year.

Because we did not even have a tv set as I was growing up, my memories of childhood were all outside, spending time with friends, playing games like “kick the can” and exploring the neighborhood. Staying in the house was a punishment for us, not an everyday occurance.  Such a contrast to all the technology of today our young people are exposed to.

A recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine revealed some disturbing facts about toddlers and tv exposure. “We found every additional hour of TV exposure among toddlers corresponded to a future decrease in classroom engagement and success at math, increased victimization by classmates, have a more sedentary lifestyle, higher consumption of junk food and, ultimately, higher body mass index,” says lead author Dr. Linda S. Pagani, a psychosocial professor at the Universite de Montreal and researcher at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center.

Another study which followed almost 2000 high school kids and their TV viewing times, found that those students who watched too much TV are much more likely to develop bad eating habits in their future. Dr Daheia Barr-Anderson worked with a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota to investigate this relationship between television and diet. She said, “To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the association between television viewing and diet over the transition from adolescence into young adulthood. We’ve shown that TV viewing during adolescence predicts poorer dietary intake patterns five years later”.

Unfortunately, statistics now show that one-third of all of the kids in this country are either overweight or obese. This can have a devasting effect on how kids feel about themselves.

As a senior I am very aware, as well, of the dangers of tv watching for long hours.

TV viewing is a very potent risk factor for disability in older age […] Sitting and watching TV for long periods (especially in the evening) has got to be one of the most dangerous things that older people can do because they are much more susceptible to the damages of physical inactivity.”  Dr. Loretta DiPietro

In a study by NIH-AARP Diet and Health the researchers clinically followed the participants (340,000 men and 226,000 women) for about 10 years, or until 2006, when the NIH-AARP study ended. By this point, almost 30 percent of the participants who were healthy at the beginning of the study developed a walking disability, described as being either “unable to walk” or walking at an “easy usual pace,” defined as less than 2 miles per hour (mph).

Perhaps, as parents and grandparents, we all need to remove ourselves from in front of the tv set and spend more time experiencing that outside world because staying fit, even for the very young, apparently can make a big difference in our overall health.

What does your family do for recreation? Would love to hear your comments about this.

Posted by Joanne at 10:15 am

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