These days, bicycles, roller blades, and seaside holidays can no longer compete with television, DVDs, Playstation, and computers when it comes to a child’s attention span. Sadly, children are spending longer and longer, sedentary in front of LCD screens, and less and less time doing any form of physical activity. As a result, they are weighing more and more and child obesity is now actually something to be concerned about.
Prior to the digital age, children were forced to go out and play, unknowingly engaging in physical activity and oblivious to their body’s burning off of any unwanted calories. Full of energy, kissed by the sun, and eager to use their imagination, children played games of make-believe for hours on end with their friends, loathe to come in of an evening, to eat dinner with the family.
Compare that scenario to the lives of children today and there is a stark difference. Children nowadays are lethargic from excessive amounts of junk food eaten between meals. They spend hours upon hours watching television, and more often than not, eat their breakfast, lunch, or dinner in front of it – along with the rest of the family at various times that rarely coincide.
A child on a mission to achieve a certain level or score on a Playstation can sit glued to the screen for hours on end, hardly moving or speaking except to let out a cry of anguish or victory depending on how their game is progressing, their only source of physical activity being to move a joystick and press buttons repeatedly.
Children nowadays avoid physical activity to such an extent that they expect to be driven everywhere rather than walk or to pick up the telephone rather than visit someone to talk with them.
However the blame really shouldn’t be placed on the children. It is the parents who are at fault, and to a certain extent, society in general. Life is faster now and in direct proportion the faster it gets, the less physical activity children do.
Before, working mothers were in the minority, however, nowadays most parents work – both mothers and fathers – resulting in the need for a more convenient lifestyle. Kids are sat down to watch a DVD in order to keep them quiet whilst their puzzles, games, and books, remain tucked carefully away in the cupboard.
The growing intensity of school curricula and lack of time for sport within school hours has only added to this problem, with nearly three-quarters of British teenagers attending school doing less than two hours’ physical activity a week!
Given that physical activity not only keeps obesity at bay but generates a healthy and happy attitude, it’s surprising that more schools have not tried to harness the positive influence of physical activity within their educational programme. Unfortunately, usually physical activity takes a back seat to other subjects regarded as more important.
Outside of schools, in public areas, many parks have been vandalized so that their swings are broken, wooden seats upturned, and obscene language painted on any open space. So it’s no wonder that children no longer have the urge to play there.
Luckily, some forms of physical activity still hold a modicum of interest with the younger generation such as swimming in the sea. The question is, is it enough to stop obesity becoming more of a worry than ever before?