Growing Concerns About Teens’ Online Life: How to Help Them be Healthier

According to Canada’s CBC News, scientists are concerned that the extensive amount of time kids are spending online is producing distracted kids who have a hard time focusing and thinking deeply or analytically.

They note that according to a 2010 Kaiser study, the average tween or teen consumes almost 11 hours of media each day.

The research highlights how multi-tasking has become routine for young people, to the point that of the almost 11 hours, 3 hours is attributed to consuming two sources of media at the same time. For example, one hour of watching videos while texting at the same time counts as two hours of media consumption.

But, they say, even without accounting for multi-tasking, Canadian teens are spending an average of five hours a day just on their smartphones: texting, social networking, gaming, and watching videos.

Teens in the US are spending at least as much time on their smartphones, if not more. The effects of all of this online time is said to be causing anxiety in kids to skyrocket, as they’re spending so much of their time keeping up with multiple online profiles as well as hundreds of digital friends, and sometimes having to deal with online bullying.

Fortunately, there is a way to counteract at least some of the negative effects and help your tween or teen have a healthier online life.

Encourage more physical activity

All of that time spent being sedentary, sitting behind a computer screen or watching TV, is very harmful to our health. Both kids and adults who spend most of their time sitting significantly increase their risk of developing serious health problems.

A 2012 study tested participants who spent most of their day sitting, and found that those who sit for three hours a day or less have the lowest chances of developing kidney disease. Those who sit for up to eight hours a day have a 30 percent higher chance of developing the disease.

Experts say that regular physical activity helps to improve heart health, increase strength, and can counteract at least some of the effects of screentime.

If you’re kids aren’t used to exercising, you may have to start a little at a time – and be a positive role model by joining them. Go for just a short walk at first, perhaps 10 minutes, and then add a minute or so each time.

While watching TV together, take part in a fun competition to see who can do the most push-ups or squats. You can also encourage participation in sports, or sign them up for an activity they might really like, such as dancing, martial arts or gymnastics.

Set time limits

Everything in moderation, including online time. Using high tech gadgets should be considered just one part of your child’s day, along with other activities like recreation, school and homework as well as socializing in person with friends and family. Try to encourage your kids to make a conscious choice to fill their day with all types of activities.

Spending more time in nature

Many studies have confirmed what we probably already knew; spending time in nature is good for the soul – and for our health. A series of studies published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that being outside in nature makes people “feel more alive.”

Researchers state that people with a greater sense of vitality are more resilient to physical illness and that one of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings. It can be an antidote to the physical, mental and emotional stress of technology on our bodies and brains.

campingConsider going on a camping trip in the great outdoors, or hiking in a scenic area – anything that family can do together in nature is bound to be beneficial for everyone, including your tweens and teens.

-The Alternative Daily


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