As the prevalence of technology increases, unfortunately, so does the rate of childhood obesity in Canada. A recent survey conducted by the YMCA claims that alongside time, and money, technology is a key barrier parents experience in attempt to prioritizing a healthy lifestyle for their family (Tahnk, n.d). In addition, 42% of parents of children ages five to ten can agree that various technological devices such as television, video games, and cell phones are inhibiting children’s healthy lifestyles (Tahnk, n.d). However, although parents are somewhat blaming technology as a reason for a lack of exercise, a shocking 74% would rather spend quality family time watching a television show rather get active with the family (Tahnk, n.d). With that being said, it is no surprise that as of 2013 42 million infants and young children around the world were overweight or obese (Childhood Obesity Foundation, 2015). If this continues by 2025 an estimated 70 million children will be overweight and obese worldwide (Childhood Obesity Foundation, 2015)!
If parents continue to promote unhealthy eating and lack of exercise their children will ultimately face the long-term consequences. Experts predict these unhealthy habits will follow these children into their adulthood. Obesity is proven to have multiple health implications, including an early death.
In my opinion, parents should not fully blame the rise of technology for the increased rate of overweight and obese children. Alongside a balanced diet, families should learn how to balance technology and exercise into their daily routine. However, unlike the past, children now a days are spending less time outdoors and more time indoors due to various reasons. For example, nowadays it is common for both parents to work full-time jobs. With that being said, parents may feel drained from their day at work to take their children to the park in the evening. In their eyes, it is easier to spend the evening in front of the television screen rather then taking a bike ride. In addition, while parents are at work, many children are left in the care of older siblings. However, with the rise of crime rates, parents may not feel safe allowing their children to go outside without their supervision. Times have sure changed since the common rule of be home when the street lights come on, but parents can still encourage exercise in this day age age!
Now parents, I understand that your lives are on the go. From waking the kids up, preparing them for school, going to work, coming home preparing dinner … the list goes on and on. And if that isn’t enough you may have to prey your children away from the television. But what I told you there is a way to encourage family exercise by using technology? Perhaps, that would be the first step to encouraging your family to participate in a healthy lifestyle!
Here are some examples…
- Play Just Dance – from personal experience, the kindergarten class I work in loves this game! Its a perfect alternative for inclement weather and it sure gets our heart rates going!
- Make a free GoNoodle account – GoNoodle gets over 10 million children moving to be their strongest, bravest, silliest selves (GoNoodle, n.d). This awesome resource provides a variety of family friendly exercise videos in many styles including zumba, yoga, and dance!
- Download Zombie Run – This largest fitness app, provides a fun running game! Take the family to a track and each member runs away from zombies and are given obstacles to accomplish. This app is so fun you may even forget your exercising
Those are just some ways you can use technology to promote exercise in your house. But what about the “old school” way of exercising? Children’s sports leagues can be expensive for some families so here are some ways to promote outdoor exercise for a low cost or even for free!
- Go on a thirty minute bike ride around the neighbourhood
- Spend the evening at the neighbourhood park
- Go swimming at the local recreation centre (many city operated centres have low fees)
- Plant a family garden
- Play games children of any generation love – such as Duck-Duck Goose, Simon Says, and Red Light Green Light)
- Play Mini Golf
- Set up an amateur sports league with the neighbours
Furthermore, like I have mentioned previously, many parents feel uncomfortable allowing their children to play outside when they are not home. Many parents fear that their children are at risk of abduction. However, to prevent this trauma it is essential that we teach children about outdoor safety – most importantly not to talk or approach strangers! Other common rules include creating an area they must stay in or never venturing off alone. Or, show your children this video that highlights five important outdoor play rules!
All in all, it is imperative that parents find a fine balance between technology use and exercise in the household. Lets end the obesity trend today and start striving for a healthier future!