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How is Technology Affecting You?

In today's digital age, technology has undeniably transformed the way we live, work, and play. While it has brought numerous benefits there are growing concerns about the negative impact of technology on the younger generations. The main issue is that they are not getting up and active like the generations before them. Let's dive in to see why this is a matter of concern and how we can work to fix it together.

Technology has brought an abundance of sedentary entertainment options that captivate children. The late 90s into the early 2000 brought the boom of video games with streaming services and social media joining it shortly after. The popularity of these new forms of entertainment continuing to grow often lead to longer hours spent sitting in front of screens and less stimulating play. These activities are highly immersive, making it easy for kids to sit for hours inside in front of a screen with no want to go outside and move their bodies.

Young girl sitting outside on steps on a tablet

With these new forms of entertainment and the easy access children have to technology they are spending more time on screens and remaining sedentary than ever before. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the average American child spends more than 7 hours per day on screens, which is far more than the recommended 1 to 2 hours per day. This screen time often replaces outdoor play, which is essential for physical development.

By missing out on this outdoor play kids are living more and more of their lives inside being surrounded by a darker environment, less natural light, and being isolated from others. Missing out on crucial activities like running, swinging, and hanging from bars to allow children to explore their limits at a young age creates more fearful adults and not engaging with other kids leads to higher rates of social anxiety. More socialization is crucial for childhood development to create positive hard-working members of society.

These problems were attempting to be worked on with the rise of television and all day children's tv with days of play. These would encourage kids to get outside and play because no shows were going to be on for the kids to sit and watch all day. The issue now has only become more complex with things like tablets and streaming services. Kids are no longer just on the TV in front of them at home but in the car, at dinners, and anywhere else the parents may wish to distract them. Parents often use these devices as digital babysitters, inadvertently promoting a sedentary lifestyle. Children as young as toddlers are now spending significant time on screens, affecting their physical and cognitive development.

The physical issues fall in line with the lack of outdoor time. A decrease in physical activity among children has significant health implications. Sedentary behavior is linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. It can also affect bone health, leading to weaker bones and a greater risk of fractures.

But it does not stop at physical health. Mental health can also take a deep dive as it highly affects kids cognitive development. Being physically active improves focus, memory, and problem-solving skills. Reduced physical activity may hinder children's ability to learn and perform well in the classroom. Screen time has strong links to short attention spans so it should be no surprise that when a kid is expecting that instant gratification they will not care about school and work they do not feel like doing.

This bleeds into recess and lunch times as outdoor play and physical activities with peers help children develop social skills and emotional resilience. By not having enough of that in their day can affect how they socialize in a school setting. A lack of physical activity can lead to increased social isolation and difficulties in forming meaningful relationships.

That all sounds bad for both the individual children and how they can impact society at large. So, what do we do to fix it? Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in shaping children's habits. Establishing clear guidelines for screen time and adhering to them can help create a balance between technology and physical activity. This means not just slapping a screen in front of your child because you are busy. Feel like too much? Technology is brand new and no parents had this distraction to give their children until about 10 years ago. If they did it you can too. Allow your children to be bored and not constantly stimulated. It may take some getting used to but your children will thank you for it in the long run.

Encourage children to spend time outdoors through activities such as sports, nature walks, or gardening. Let your kids be out and play with friends while you get work done. Create opportunities for them to connect with the natural world and engage in unstructured, imaginative play. This will help them grow their minds and have healthier happier futures. But this is not something you can just throw on your child. You have to work on your habits too.

Children learn by example. Parents should model an active lifestyle by engaging in physical activities themselves. Take them to the park and play with them, bring them to the gym kids center while you work out, show them YOUR joyful movement. This not only encourages kids to be more active but also strengthens the bond between parents and children.

If you feel it is still too hard try and find ways that when given the technology it can be a tool to promote physical activity. There are numerous apps, games, and gadgets that combine entertainment with exercise, such as fitness trackers and interactive dance games. Find a way for the technology to help them become a better person in the future.

Technology can become an addiction and it is our job as adults in kids' lives to work to keep them from falling into that addiction. Let's work together to help the new generations in this fast-advancing world to stay true to who they are as kids and get them to go out and play like we did.


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