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Healthy tech

May 12, 2015
Amber Koski , MOV Parent

It's no secret that children love technology. Nowadays, children as young as two can be seen operating their parents' iPads to pull up an episode of Octonauts. Teenagers sit on the couch and scroll through Twitter during family get-togethers instead of interacting with relatives. People of all ages walk around with their eyes glued to their cell phones instead of watching where they are going. While technology has done great things for our society, it also has done some bad.

The obesity rate of children in the United States has tripled since the 1980's and it is no surprise that technology is partly to blame. Watching TV, playing video games, and browsing the Internet all promote sitting and being idle for long periods of time. While children used to run around outside before dinner, they now are more likely to be easily entertained in the comfort of their home by computers or handheld devices. Idleness caused by too much screen time from these devices can easily lead to weight gain and eventually obesity if they are not used in moderation. Children are increasingly exposed to technology at younger ages and it is important to remember the health effect that this exposure may have on them in the future.

Did you know it's recommended to get no more than two hours of screen time per day? This means screen time from television, computers, and phones combined. It's also recommended that children younger than two are kept away from screens entirely (or as much as possible). Besides promoting idleness, television also exposes children to commercials that promote unhealthy snacks such as cookies, pastries, and soda. Food marketing is a billion dollar industry let your child know that just because their favorite character is on a product doesn't mean it's healthy or good for them. While it's easy to turn on the TV keep kids busy while you cook dinner or to pacify a crying child with a Baby Einstein video, next time try to provide them with a screen-free alternative such as puzzles, coloring, reading, or playing outside.

As with all things, moderation is key. When you do turn on the TV, try doing exercises during commercial breaks to make watching a little bit healthier. Engage your children by letting them choose which exercise you will do, such as jumping jacks, lunges, squats, or even yoga poses. We may not be able to cut technology completely out of our lives, but we can make small changes to better our health!

Amber Koski is a dietetic intern at The Ohio State University.



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