Lifestyle

Is Technology Helping?!

Suzan Sayegh/ Health Promotion Researcher
Aspetar
28 October, 2018

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We are living a technological automated marathon that raises the debatable argument of whether technology is actually provoking sedentary lifestyles or physical activity. The World Health Organization defines physical inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor for deaths around the world, accounting for about 3.2 million deaths globally. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children spend an average of 7 hours per day on screens such as televisions, mobiles, tablets, video games, computers, etc. This reflects the alarmingly increased sedentary behavior that is known as a risk factor for obesity in children.

 

We cannot ignore the fact that technology is an essential aspect which makes our lives easier. However, at some points and without us even noticing, technology is negatively affecting our children’s health and well-being. Our children are falling into the trap of advanced technology. Physical activity is being replaced with technological devices that mostly promote nothing but a sedentary behavior. For example, children often choose to play video games or watch their favorite shows for a whole afternoon instead of playing outside or engaging in sports activities with their friends and family.

 

So, is technology really helping?

On the other hand, some technological advances are considered beneficial such as fitness devices, web-based health trackers, and even video-based physical activities. It is a misconception that technology is the only reason behind obesity. Other influencing factors can also increase obesity, including unhealthy diet and the surrounding environment. Unfortunately, some parents might love the idea of how technology can keep their children occupied while they are busy. They might also associate family time with watching television, thus, unintentionally encouraging more sedentary behavior. With a minimal energy expenditure and not meeting the minimal required daily physical activity, children are also being subjected to more snacking.

 

Technology cannot be bad when used in a rational manner…

 

Many activities can replace technology such as playing outside or running around which are not really desired by children anymore. The solutions to this problem are numerous! It can simply start with parents having control over the sedentary time spent by their children, in order to promote physical activities. Experts claim that children should be limited to not more than 2 hours of screen-time per day. To encourage this, parents can allocate time for outdoor or afterschool activities of their children’s choice. By that, parents foster an entertaining healthy lifestyle that would in turn increase physical activity. Parents need to make sure that there aren’t any distractions involved in such activities like cell phones or tablets.

 

To parents: “choose wisely” …

 

Creating a balance between technology use and physical activity is an important habit in your child’s daily life. You, as a parent, can be the perfect role model for your children and family.

To parents, try turning off the television while having dinner, limiting computer/ tablet/ videogame use for more than 2 hours each day, and engaging in some form of physical exercise together. Help your children to take a break from the media devices and sign them up for a gymnastics class, recreational soccer team, or even swimming classes. It is important for them to develop friendships with other kids as well.

 

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