At first I thought it was funny: my two-year-old, following my husband around the house with his pretend phone, texting and swiping, just as my husband did. It was adorable. He wants to be just like his Daddy. But when my husband upgraded and handed down his old phone to my kids, I was stunned by the instantaneous addiction that took place. They couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do anything else with their time. Creative play ceased, as did exercise and reading The problem became very apparent, when my nieces came to visit. The young girls walked in the door, and without even saying hello, asked me for my Wi-Fi password.
Outside of my own life, I was curious what screen addiction was doing to our youth from a nutritional standpoint. The American Heart Association found that the average American youth spends about 8 hours a day on an electronic device.
The sedentary time we spend in front of our screens is linked with:
• early development of type 2 diabetes,
• and heart disease.
Snacking whilst watching is also extremely common. Snacking during screen time can lead to over consumption of calories. Screen time causes a malfunction in the body’s ability to regulate energy, sleep and hunger cues. This lack of regulation causes children’s bodies to store calories that are needed for normal growth, as fat instead.
Perhaps the scariest thing: the latest research states that even if your child goes to the gym, plays an after school sport, or plays outside for an hour per day, the amount of time spent sitting and staring will put them at equal risk to those who never exercised at all.
Maybe I’m old fashioned, maybe I’ve become an old lady that longingly remembers the better times of my childhood. A time when we rode bikes and caught fireflies with the neighborhood kids. But childhood is too short. Life is too short. Do you really want to spend it staring into a small rectangular box?