According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, children average 53 hours/week using electronic media including TV, cell phones, IPods, video games and computers. Their television viewing averages 3 hours/day and this practice gets worse with age. According to the Alloy Media Marketing’s 9th Annual College Explorer Survey, the college class of 2013 spends 2.5 hours/day in front of the TV, 2.5 hours on the cell phone and 20% of their waking hours on the computer. If you’ve ever watched this group in action you know they are capable of doing all three simultaneously. Rasmussen completed a similar survey on adults, yet only 23% self reported themselves as spending too much time on their Blackberry, laptops and television. Conversely, 75% of them claimed their children overused electronics. Who’s fooling who here?
We need to address the fact that social media is a growing “seat of your pants” activity. Relatively few calories are expended hitting the send or receive button. Hand to mouth exercises add high calorie junk foods and soda to our nation’s growing weight problems. What can you do? Set time limits for yourself and family members. Take stretching, walking and water breaks every 20-30 minutes if you are working on a computer project for an extended period of time. Perform light exercises during commercial breaks. Make it a house rule that snacks and beverages are only consumed at the kitchen table. Snacking combined with electronics can easily get you to the bottom of the bag without even realizing it. Finally, make sure electronics don’t encroach on your sleep time. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that people who short themselves on rest have more difficulty controlling their weight.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit children’s television viewing time to 2 hours/day. Vicky Rideout of Kaiser describes electronic media as having become so entrenched in our kid’s everyday lives that it’s “a part of the air they breathe”. I appreciate her parting comment: “Anything that takes up this much time, we really do need to think and talk about it”.
Categories: Nutrition & Wellness