Screen Time, the Downfall of Today's Children

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Screen Time the Downfall of Today’s Children
Jamie Kunsman
English Composition II
Professor Holly Ledcke
October 22, 2012

Childhood obesity is on the rise in the United States and leads to a myriad of childhood and adult health problems from hypertension to type II diabetes. “The prevalence of childhood obesity is now approaching 20% among US children aged 2 to 19 years, with the prevalence accelerating after age 5 years. “ (Boissonneault, 2011) With the current state of healthcare and unemployment in the United States, not only is this a problem for these children, but it becomes a public health problem as these children become adults with health problems and fall dependent on public healthcare. Much of the blame of childhood obesity falls on diet and “screen time” which is the time spent on computers, video games, or watching television instead of outdoors activities that involve some cardio exercise. In this article the author will show the effects of screen time on children and what parents can do to help their children overcome these problems. Children in the modern era are more susceptible to childhood obesity because of technology. While it was previously thought that obesity was genetic, there are other factors that can lead to childhood obesity. “When childhood obesity was compared against all the main independent variables (heredity, physical activity levels, sedentary behavior patterns, and dietary intake) using a logistic regression model, it was shown that the strongest independent predictor of childhood obesity was if the child's mother was also obese. However, if the child participated in a large number of hours of sedentary activity daily there was also a strong association with obesity.” (Arluk, Branch, Swain, & Dowling, 2003) The combination of screen time and fast food are a time bomb for any child and are rapidly becoming the largest cause for childhood obesity. In the modern era most households who have two parents have both of them working or children are raised by a single parent who are feeding the fire by living the fast food life style and having latch key children. While this is not always the case children living in this environment spend most of the free time in front of a screen (ie television, computers, & video games) instead of outside playing with friends do activities like playing sports, riding bicycles or any other physical exercise. “Screen time is on the schedule of most family members each day. Video games offer an exciting activity in the “downtime” after a busy school day for many kids. A video serves as babysitter after Mom picks up the kids from day care and rushes to get dinner ready.“ (Dalton, 2004) This finding is strong proof that it is not necessarily a genetic defect but also a lifestyle problem that is causing the childhood obesity explosion. While genetics play a major part in childhood obesity the technology and diet is largely becoming a major contributor to the cause of this debilitating disease. Technology and diet are intermingled in that as children spend more time in front of a screen they are usually consuming some sort of junk food while being inundated with commercials about foods that usually are not good for them. Dalton tells us that the average US child watches in excess of 1200 hours of television and some 33000 commercials per year. It is these same commercials that are targeting children by advertising during children shows or cartons where they know that the audience is primarily children. High sugar and high fat food and drink products regularly target these types of programming to attract children to try their products. Children in turn with nag and annoy their parents to try it until the parent gives into the child and purchases the product. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is the tool used to determine obesity. Obesity in children is gauged differently than it is in adults. In children the BMI is calculated using the same...
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