We live in a technology-centric world full of televisions, computer screens, and ipads. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that the average child watches seven hours of television, surfs on the internet, and plays video games daily. It is important to decrease the amount of time we allow children to be on their screens to avoid lack of activity and over-snacking that can lead to childhood obesity.
When you decrease your physical activity, you are spending less time outside burning calories and energy. Binge watching a series or watching a movie can take hours to finish which is hours that can be filled up doing chores around the house, playing sports, or exercising. There can also be an increase in snacking as you feel that you need to keep eating until the program is over with fattening foods like buttered popcorn, chips, pretzels, etc. The Journal of American Dietetic Association says that nine out of ten foods advertisements during Saturday night children’s programs advertise foods high in fat, sodium, and added sugar. This can affect a child’s food preferences and can impact their health. For example, these can be adds that are solely fast food ads that feature children in them thinking this is all children need to eat. You will feel compelled to eat fast food after.
Having your television in the bedroom can decrease the amount of sleep you get which leads to late night, unmonitored television watching. Not getting enough sleep can increase ghrelin which is a hormone that tells you when you are hungry and will decrease leptin which tells you when you are full. Being sleep-deprived can make you eat 300 extra calories a day from high fat foods compared to those who are well-rested as children may feel like having a snack until their program ends. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children only spend one to two hours in front of a screen. Instead of forcing your child to follow your plan on what to eat and how long to watch, let them be the one to come up with a plan based on the choices you present to them. You can even show them to set up timers on their devices to turn off automatically when it is time to go to bed. Technology addiction can be treated and parents need to set limits on their child to make smarter, healthier choices.
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