I went to a family reunion for my grandparents' wedding anniversary not long ago, now as an adult. I couldn't help but stare in awe at the younger generation attending the event. There they were dressed in their Sunday best, sitting around one of the white linen draped tables digging furiously with their thumbs and fingers at their ipod touches and PSPs, not saying a single word to one another. They did this for hours, unmoving except for when it was time to eat. There was one brief interaction between two of the boys as they exchanged games because they were bored with the ones they were playing.
It's this sort of shift in activity and socializing in children that concerns me. That we are headed down a path that is leading our next generation to a premature death or a life filled with chronic disease.
A study released just this month in The Lancet (a major medical journal) revealed that "between 70 and 79 percent of Canadian boys and 80 to 89 percent of girls between the ages of 13 to 15 are inactive."
Inactivity rates in Canada have been steadily climbing with a noticeable increase in our country from 2001-2006.
The study is simply a survey of what our activity levels look like at this point and doesn't look into rates of obesity and disease (some of the potential consequences). We do know however from more recent research posted that obesity is still on the rise, type 2 diabetes is now reaching age groups so young we didn't think it possible and the prediction is that this generation will be the first to die before their parents.
It's impossible to point the finger at one reason for all of this. It is after all, a combination of policy problems, lifestyle problems and diet problems. We need to start somewhere though and the first place should be getting kids out and active.
As a rule of thumb, children should get no more than 3 hours of screen time per day. That's computers, televisions, video games and hand held devices all included. How many people have children that spend more than 3 hours/day in front of a screen? It's time to get kids out and being active. Soccer 2 times/week and a Wii Fit at home just isn't going to cut it anymore
Think about your child's future. If you want them to grow up healthy and strong, get them doing activities that will help them do this. Get them back outside playing.