Obesity rates in children are at an all time high and have tripled in children since the 1980s and many are asking why. With kids spending more and more time on social media, playing video games and watching TV and less time outside, the answer is obvious. Our electronic loving culture is making it easier for kids to have weight issues. Here are a three forms of media that are making childhood obesity levels skyrocket and also may be hurting the mental health of kids as well.
Since being introduced over 40 years ago, video games have become a hobby (and an obsessive one in some cases) for many people, especially kids. Not only is the activity of playing video games pretty sedentary but also studies have shown that kids playing video games eat more. A single session of playing video games in healthy male adolescents has shown an association with increased food intake.
As a culture, the television is one of the main pieces of furniture on display in almost everyone’s house. Cartoons on the weekend mornings for kids, football games playing on Sunday, and when you get home from work, our TVs are turned on most nights. With the popularity of services of Netflix and Hulu, we even have coined the term “binge watch” when we have a marathon of TV watching in a day. TV watching is sedentary and has many other side effects. Studies have shown that people who eat while they are watching TV consume more calories versus those who eat meals without the TV on.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children and adolescents spend a maximum of one to two hours in front of a screen at all. Since most kids spend at least that amount of time in front of a TV, with an additional hour used to play video games, you also need to factor the amount of time kids are on or checking their social media. In a study conducted by CNN, 200 eighth graders allowed their social media feeds to be studied by child development experts. The findings not only concluded that these teens or tweens were checking their social media accounts upwards of 100 times a day but also that it was doing damage to their mental health. Social media can result in electronic addiction and the study concluded that the more kids checked their social media the more distressed and depressed they can become.
Technology is not going anywhere but it may be worth unplugging the phone, turning off the TV or logging out of social media and heading outside once in awhile to improve kids overall health.