It’s redundant to explain that kids are falling short of the mark with regard to their physical fitness, but a look at the data paints an eye-opening picture: a whopping 80% of kids aren’t getting enough physical activity. The culprit is obvious—screen time is eating up much of our kids’ time. The fastest growing and most profitable sector of screen time options for kids is video games. The level of imagination, engagement, and sensory immersion involved with this $100 billion dollar per year industry was unimaginable years ago, when the games consisted of two paddles and a ball going back and forth. Almost as unimaginable as the fact that about 8 out of 10 kids are now relatively inactive.
As video game screens are siphoning our kids away from physical activity, it poses the question, “How can we compete with video games to get kids moving again?” After all, this type of technology isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Personal trainers including myself have tried engaging kids in active and imaginative programs of physical activity, and we’ve been somewhat successful. At least while the kids are participating, they are in a positive environment with active adults and other kids with no access to video games… And then they go home.
I would really love to offer up a list of fun and creative games and tell everyone: “Just do these games and kids won’t play video games any more.” And in fact, I have done that in the past. I’ve listed games you can play, how you can spend active time with your kids, and some ideas to employ. However, the solution to the inactivity issue involving video game play goes far beyond knowing a few fun activities. If we’re going to help kids, we have to address the systemic plague of inactivity that has infected our entire society. The available data has made it very clear that healthy, active kids are produced by healthy, active parents.
I’m frustrated when I hear adults finger-point about what schools and other community organizations aren’t doing for their kids. What are we doing in our own homes? What example of an active, healthy lifestyle is being set under our own roofs? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American adult is inactive 11 hours per day. Data on adult screen time suggests adults are in front of screens, recreationally, for roughly three to five hours per day. How can we expect our kids to be active if we aren’t?
It’s easy for us to finish our day, pick up those kiddos, and then let them lull themselves with video games or Netflix at home. I understand the dilemma: we’re tired, overworked, many of us are working multiple jobs, and certainly many homes have two working parents (if there are two parents at all). This equals an exhaustion that seduces us into letting our kids have unlimited screen time and video games. As a parent, I understand how technology has made our jobs easier. A child enthralled in a screen activity is usually not making any demands of us. We can enjoy a rare glimpse of silence. But here’s the thing: Just because it’s easy doesn’t make it right.
Written by Melissa Abramovich, ACE CPT, NASM CGT, AAHFRP Medical Exercise Specialist at Elite Sports Club-River Glen
Melissa Abramovich went into Personal Training and Group Exercise instruction after successfully losing 140 pounds through healthy diet and exercise. Her desire to help others drove her forward into a career helping others to make healthier choices. She is an ACE certified personal trainer and now also a Medical Exercise Specialist (AAHFRP), helping clients with a myriad of health issues at Elite Sports Clubs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree, and many group exercise related certifications as well.
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.