My regular readers know I grew up in the 70's and we did not have game-boys and DS's, let alone iPhones, Wii's or X-Box gaming systems. We played outside and did whatever we could to play for “five more minutes” when mom called us in for supper.
We must ask ourselves, in today's society, are video games making kids fat? Let's explore this topic.
There are three types of kids:
1. Those focused on sports and not really interested in video gaming.
2. Those focused on sports who spend some of their downtime gaming.
3. Those without an interest in sports who spend all of their free time gaming, to the point where they don't do anything else.
To clarify, by the term “sports” we are including traditional non-required sports (baseball, football, volleyball, soccer, etc), cheer, dance, gymnastics, swimming, cycling, running, weight lifting and any other team or solo program that provides exercise for a period of time of 30 minutes or more, daily or at least three times a week. This does not include mandated classes such as gym or PE class.
So what is the connection between video gaming and obesity in children?
A typical child spends eight hours a day in a classroom. Perhaps thirty minutes in gym class. Outside of that thirty minutes, the only time a child has to be active and exercise his or her body is after school hours or on the weekends. If they are not involved in an activity that allows them to move their body, they become very sedentary and as time passes, the weight gain begins. The dietary habits of children are not the best. We all know that. Chicken nuggets, burgers, french fries, ice cream, mac and cheese, pop tarts and juice boxes or sodas are the main staples of the childhood diet plan. Unless of course, your parents are focused on health and wellness and then the diet plan shifts to a healthier one, which will usually, also include exercise and activity. If a child is spending the majority of their time sitting, either in school or at home in front of a TV or gaming console, plus eating foods heavy in starches and sugars, how is he or she expected to have a healthy body? It's just not feasibly possible.
Add to that the issues we experience in our society with ADD and ADHD. Perhaps those issues are related to inactivity and poor diets? We didn't have ADD and ADHD in the 70's. Kids burnt off excess energy and ate healthier meals. Fast food was a treat, not an everyday occurrence. Obesity and focus issues were not as prevalent as they are today. All of this is occurring simply because people are not taking personal responsibility for themselves and for passing these lessons onto the next generation honey-boo-boo.
The great thing about all of this is that we can change things easily. We get to CHOOSE how we treat our body. Parents who complain about their child not eating anything but fast food or crap need to take a step back and look at this from an objective stance instead of as a victim. I have yet to see a child get in a car, go to a fast food restaurant and buy themselves a happy meal. The parents have taught them about this food, taught them to eat poorly and pushed them off to be occupied by video games instead of engaging with their child and forming a bond that will allow them to grow and expand to become a beneficial member of society. Yes, I said it. I believe that kids who are not taught about self-respect and personal responsibility have a higher chance of being obese and in victim mode as adults. They become a drain on society through health care programs, social aid programs and even disability payments that would be unnecessary if they choose to treat their body as a temple instead of as a trash bin.
The cycle begins in childhood. Advances into the teenage years and on to adulthood. As parents, we are totally responsible for not only teaching our children the value of being self-respectful and fueling our body and mind with healthy nutrient dense food and thoughts, but showing them the value by each of us LEADING by example with our own mind and body.
The next time your child asks to eat their fast food in front of the video game console, take a moment and step back to evaluate the situation. Ask yourself how you can make a different choice. A choice that will impact your child's life immediately, for decades to come and even on into future generations.
Be self-responsible. Be self-loving. Be self-respectful. Make a difference. Choose to live differently. Choose to teach those around you by leading by example. Be happy! Live life to the fullest! You deserve to have it all!