Lots of parents are concerned about how technology affects children physically. Does technology affect your children’s eyesight? Is it contributing to childhood obesity? Is it responsible for making our kids fat? Lets have a closer look at the physical effect of technology on children.
Is Technology Making My Child Overweight?
The use of technology includes playing video games, using computers, mobile phones, watching movies on handheld devices, and just sitting in front of the TV. Can a TV show or computer game really make a child overweight?
When you put it like that the obvious answer is “no”. It’s not the show or game that’s the problem. It’s about what device is being used, and what your child is physically doing as a result of using the device.
While your child is sitting down pressing buttons or swiping things on a screen, they are not being physically active. If they were out running around outside, playing sport, swimming or engaging in any other physical activity, their heart rate would increase and their physical health would improve. It’s not the technology itself that is affecting your child’s weight, just the fact that they are not physically moving whilst they’re using or watching it. The physical effect of technology on children in this instance is the opportunity cost of what alternative activities they could be doing.
Active Technology Games
If, like most families in western cultures, you have a Wii console at home (or something similar) with games such as Wii sports, Olympics, dance etc, this type of technology can have wonderful physical affects on your children. Of course it’s important that kids (and parents) stretch their muscles first – many people have torn muscles and suffered injuries playing games like 10-pin bowling without warming up first!
These sorts of games can be a lot of fun and create a brilliant way of incorporating physical activity into playtime, without your child realizing they are exercising. If you can join in with your children it makes the activity a whole lot better again. It’s no wonder these games were so popular when first released. If the excitement of playing on the Wii has worn off for you and your kids, it’s well worth revitalizing these games for the sake of your children’s physical health and well-being.
The Effect of Technology on Children and Their Eyes
Does looking at a screen for a prolonged period affect our eyesight, or the eyesight of your children? I know personally that when I look at a computer screen for hours on end, eventually my eyes get sore and I often develop a headache. However there is no medical evidence that sore eyes affects the way they see.
Whenever a child or an adult focuses their eyes on something close to them for a prolonged period, their eyes can get sore. Does the screen of the handheld device or TV set your kids are looking at cause the sore eyes? Another simple answer: “No”.
The Need To Look Away
It’s the fact that the children are looking at something close by and not looking away to adjust their vision as necessary. It would be the same if they were reading a physical book for hours on end, eventually this would make their eyes sore. Particularly if they were so engrossed in the book that they forgot to blink! But medical evidence suggests it would not affect their eyesight.
It’s important for you as a parent to monitor your children’s use of technology, and if they are looking at a screen it’s best to remind them to look away into the distance every so often to adjust their eyes. Better still not to let them look at their screen for more than half an hour in one go.
How Technology Affects Children in Large Doses
As with anything in life, moderation is the key. If your children are sitting down watching a device for half an hour at a time, this will not lead to obesity in itself. If your children don’t move for 3 hours straight and haven’t taken their eyes off their device, their inactivity for this time period is not helping them physically in any way.
Watching TV or movies on any device (makes no difference if on a TV set, a computer or something smaller) can often be combined with eating finger food, which more often than not is a form of junk food (chips, chocolates etc). Again, the movies, games or technology are not the direct cause of physical weight gain. Of course it’s the consumption of the junk food that isn’t doing your child any good.
The other problem with watching or using technology in large doses is that most often our posture isn’t good. The prevalence of bad backs and sore necks in young children and teens is growing significantly, and many thing this is due to their technology usage.
Does Technology Affect Your Children Physically?
In summary, the use of technology in small doses does not directly affect your children physically, however excessive screen time can lead to physical health issues. Active video games are a wonderful way of encouraging physical activity while having fun. Most importantly, the physical effect of technology on children should not be harmful providing it is not excessive and does not eliminate other physical activities for your children. Moderation is the key!