The Connection Between Technology And Childhood Obesity

Today, it is hard to imagine life without a computer or television and other electronic gadgets that have become so commonplace since the advent of modern technology that it is leaving us and our children with little time to enjoy nature and the outdoors. Not so long ago, parents derived much pleasure from seeing their kids cavorting in the outdoors beneath the sun or climbing trees and remaining somewhat more active than the kids of today who have found a virtual world in which to remain engrossed. Thus, technology and childhood obesity are closely related because we have now become accustomed to having our eyes glued to the computer screen or television screen and are otherwise taken up with different forms of electronic entertainment.

Boob-Tube And More Boob-Tube

The new lifestyle that has taken over our children’s lives leaves little time for them to exercise, go out and remain otherwise active and it is far removed from the lifestyle our parents enjoyed many years ago. Along with the sedentary life that our children have become accustomed to, technology and childhood obesity have become closely intertwined and our concern for our health has also taken a backseat as the life in front of the boob-tube continues to take up all of our children’s time at the expense of their health.

It is thus imperative to understand the reason why technology and childhood obesity are going hand in hand, and when one considers the fact that child obesity has gone up by more than three times in the recent past, the problem has actually now reached epidemic proportions and it seems that now we are breeding obesity in our homes as we are letting our children spend all of their time in front of the television or other electronic devices.

The fact is that when we and our children sit immobile for hours on end watching television or working on the computer or playing video games, we neglect to exercise and along with a diet consisting of sodas and fast foods are breeding obesity like never before. Thus, technology and childhood obesity are causing our children to eat more, exercise less and live sedentary lifestyles which is a cocktail that only serves up more obese children in our population today.

No doubt, there are a number of other factors too that contribute to obesity, but television is a prime example of how technology and childhood obesity combine to the detriment of our health. Staying glued to the television will mean a lack of exercise, focusing on excessive eating followed by an unhealthy lifestyle and thus contributing to furthering the incidence of obesity in our children.

Television and the computer are prime examples of how technology and childhood obesity are making kids do things that are bad for them and if you want your kid to not become obese, you should discourage him from watching too much television, which is a major reason why children become obese, and to also address obesity as a health problem which needs to be addressed and not to consider obesity as merely being a problem with how the child looks.

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Technology and Today’s Kids – The Eyes of the World

My distaste for technology may be due to the fact that I grew up in the country, no access to the outside world through telephone, internet, or television. My kids are aghast as I tell them the story of Mommy’s techie-less childhood, pity filling their eyes as I speak of a life isolated. Even as I try to reassure them that I liked it that way, they shake their heads in disbelief, appalled that their grandparents would submit my siblings and I to a life without the windows of the world looking in.

That’s correct, you heard me right – no TV, no Wii, no DVD player, no Blueray thingamajig. No internet access, no cell phones – heck, no phone at all! We lived in the “boondocks” as Dad lovingly called them, dry, harsh desert lands just north of the Mexico – Arizona border. Eight siblings, we were each other’s best frenemies. We were fierce kids, smart kids, and always healthy kids. The outdoors was our playground, and living in the country, there was plenty enough for everyone! We ran, built forts, kept pets, caught lizards, and rode our bikes everywhere.

Then one year, our innocence was interrupted, and we became the new owners of a much-loved Nintendo game console. It came into our lives when I was about thirteen, and from that point on, we suffered from “Mario addiction.” I can still whistle the theme music…doo doo doo, doo doo do doood! After a couple of weeks, though, the novelty of it wore off, and we were soon back outside – running and romping and creating.

That was my only brush with technology and its power as a child – and I sometimes envy those innocent days of ignorant bliss. Fast forward to today – I run a full-fledged internet business, happily most days, frustratingly on others. I continue to believe in the usefulness of Facebook, Twitter and texting for communication purposes and business networking – though NONE of those programs are my friend. I am unceasingly surprised at the openness of folks on the internet, and especially appalled at what comes out of the mouths, err, keyboards – of “Christians” across the net, especially on Facebook! Call me old-fashioned, and you bet your bippie, you’d be right. Call me a prude – right again! Chalk it all up to growing up in a home where our mother’s jaw would drop if one of us said “deodorant” in “mixed” company!

I guess my point to all this jibber jabber is that I wonder where the personal discretion has gone. Yes, I get it – technology is here to stay, it’s a good thing for business and growth, yada yada. I am finally getting pretty excited about that opportunity, too. My question is just this – with the eyes of the world upon us Christians in a more highly exposed way than ever before, what are we going to do with this opportunity?

I’m not by any means suggesting we put a Scripture on every Facebook post, or use Twitter to put 140 character mini-sermons into cyberspace! I am merely questioning the usage of what is before us as a tool to reach dozens, no hundreds – actually, thousands for Christ! Not just in a “Holy” way, but in tangible ways, too. What about just being a positive encourager on the web? Maybe just keeping some “moods” and anger issues at “you know who’s” at bay, or even privately deal with them before God rather than on the world-wide web! I don’t know, I’m “just sayin!”

I guess I have to realize that my kids are growing up in a time very different from my own childhood. I don’t fear for them though, they serve the same God I did! I just want them to use what is before them as a tool for Kingdom purposes, rather than a stress buster or mood release for themselves. I just want them to realize that there are consequences for everything we do, including for what we know to do, and then choose not to do! I guess I just want them to remember, online and off, that the eyes of the world are upon them.

Bess Blanco is a passionate Life Coach and Author specializing in Family Health and Wholeness. Promoting Biblical health principles for the entire family, she has many published articles online and in print to her credit. Her impressive research combined with her own years of experience in the areas of health, balance, and finances have given her unique qualifications to share with today’s Christian families how to live a healthier life. Her business, The Intentional Lifestyle, is an online guide for the Christian family making positive changes to their lifestyle for their overall health, home, and finances. Life coaching, tips and ideas, recipes, and cooking classes are just a few of the resources you will find at http://www.theintentionallifestyle.com.

Kid Internet Safety – Is Social Media A Safe Place to Educate Our Kids?

Many teachers have started to embrace social media instead of banning them. Government education bodies across the USA, Canada, the EU & other countries have published “Internet Usage Guidelines For Schools”, which include components on how to use social media and share information between teacher, parent, and kid & keep the kids safe.

Even though many have started to embrace this movement, there are many teachers that are still cautious of social network usage amongst kids, especially at school. I strongly feel that their uneasiness of the social media usage is based on negative media publicity and/or the pure ignorance of the technology itself. With this being said, there are many arguments that the educational benefits of social media outweigh the risk, and the teachers in support of the social media in classrooms worry that the schools are missing out on an opportunity to incorporate tools that many students already know how to use.

It doesn’t mean parents and teachers put down their guards about the Internet dangers for kids, but it does mean get involved & get up to speed to help & work with your kid on the Internet.

In a pilot project, which started as a Facebook-like forum, a seventh grade teacher showed with her social media program 20% of students (school wide) were completing extra assignments for no credit, grades increased more than 50%, and absenteeism was reduced by more than a third.

Here are 5 reason why I feel that school should embrace social media just like the seventh grade teacher that I mentioned above.

1. Social Media is Not Going Away
Contextually, things have not really changed. In the early 1990s the debate was similar as it today. School administrators were adamantly against allowing access to the Internet – the big fear being pornography and predators. If you fast forward, it seems as though we’re confronted with similar issues today. Can you imagine a school not being connected to the Internet now? Impossible!

However, in pure numbers and usage there has been a big change. For example, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, almost ¾ of seventh to twelfth graders have at least one social media profile, and the survey group used social sites more than they played games or watched videos online. Also, you cannot ignore social medias like Facebook have grown to over 500 million users in 7 years, and I haven’t even gone into the details of sites like Myspace, Tagged, MyYearBook, Ning, Hi 5, and LinkedIn. Social media growth is exponential.

Also, here’s something else that endorses social networks are here to stay. Not to long ago, some public schools in the UK had an Internet “lock down”, and the students basically rebelled. Marks, absenteeism & attitudes changed during this “lock down”. Unlike the teacher who had positive results with her pilot “Facebook” program, the kids who went through this “lock down” period seemed not to take responsibility for their actions.

Bottom line – social networks are here to stay. Parents or teachers should get on board – learn it & teach it.

2. Kids Are Better Learners When Engaged
A 3rd and 4th grade Minnesota teacher started using blogs in his classroom in 2007 as a way to motivate students to write. The results were amazing. Students loved it.

In many examples, students have shown to become keenly aware that blogging is not just writing on a piece of paper that gets handed to the teacher, and gets handed back with a smiley. They know that blogging is a shared concept, and friends or other people may even stumble across their writings. There is a concept of power in that notion.

Kids are enthusiastic about in-class blogging. In the pilot Facebook project previously mentioned, students got to school earlier and the overall quality of their work increased.

Parents and teachers – when kids are engaged, they learn better. We need to become engaged before we help them become engaged.

3. Safe Social Media Tools and They’re Free
A teacher started using blogs to teach kids, and ended up developing a ‘social media platform’. His platform allowed him to monitor and approve everything that the kids were posting online, and kept kids safe from inappropriate advertising. This teacher then developed a similar web-based tool, which teachers use today. The tool is called kidblog.org.

Kidblog is one of the hottest Web 2.0 tools in K-8 education, which allows teachers to easily blog with their classes in a teacher-kid-friendly environment. Teachers tend to gain a sense of the interaction taking place as the students navigate their way through their class members’ blogs, and teachers can also invite other classes and guests to participate in the class’ discussions, thereby broadening the readership audience and increasing motivation for students. Multiple teachers can also collaborate within a Kidblog class and share moderation responsibilities.

From a safety perspective, teachers have full administrative control over all comments, posts, and privacy settings. The administrator has the ability to preview and approve (or unapprove) content published by students (and other visitors, if allowed by their privacy settings). Kidblog endorses privacy & does not collect any personal information from students.

Kidblog also never subjects students to advertising, so teachers can feel comfortable knowing that the publishing environment is free from distractions.

Even though Kidblog.org is extremely popular there are other equally popular tools, such as Edmodo & Edublogs.

The key element – these tools are safe and 100% free.

4. Schools Stealing Public Social Media Time
According to a Neilson study, between 2004-2009 the amount of time 2-11 year old kids spent online increased by 63%. One way schools have used this number to their advantage is to compete with other social media sites for part of this time.

One school in the USA launched a pilot program and had their kids complete all their assignments on the school’s propriety social media. As a result, the students spent about five fewer hours weekly on Facebook and Myspace so they could do their assignments.

Another example, a teacher would post an extra assignment that students could complete after school every day. The posting was done on school propriety social media. One day she had students comment on one of President Obama’s speeches; another day she had them make two-minute videos of something on their walk home that was a bad example of sustainability. These assignments had no credit attached to them. The only intrinsic reward was interacting with other students in the digital world.

The results speak for themselves – one social media displaced by another, and has accommodated students desires to communicate with each other, and in a safe way.

5. Social Media Encourages Collaboration
Social media as a teaching tool has a natural collaborative element. Students critique and comment on each other’s assignments, work in teams to create content, and can easily access each other and the teacher with questions or to start a discussion.

Traditional education, on the other hand, typically involves teacher-given lectures, students with their eyes on their own papers, and not talking neighbors. Then, when a student gets into the business world they are literally thrown into groups, expected to produce, but unprepared and lack the collaboration skills.

Many studies show the compelling nature for kids to use social media tools in school, especially how they collaborate. It was initially thought that the shy kids would drift away from collaboration, but in fact if they had a point to make they would make it equally as well as a non-shy kid.

It’s easy to see that students enjoy interacting with each other, which also happens to be in a safe and secure manner.

Conclusion
The negative media publicity has actually had a positive impact, and made our school administrators fully aware of the Internet dangers and thus developed programs and technology to address these concerns and keep our kids safe at schools. As a by- product of these tools, there is a reduction in absenteeism, and our kids are being properly prepared for the collaborative world.

I believe we are on the right track to educating our kids correctly and keeping our kids safe on the Internet while at school.

Technology Motivates Our Kids to Organize

Thirty years ago, our mothers pinned reminders on our jackets as they packed us up for kindergarten. Paper calendars were a mainstay on every refrigerator–miniature handwritten notes and eraser marks kept our lives intact. While these tools may have been adequate in simpler times, our children’s lives have become increasingly harried. kids have homework assignments, book reports, science projects, and a litany of other responsibilities. Besides school responsibilities, they have sports practices, music lessons, play dates, gymnastics, dance recitals, birthday parties ( you get the idea). It’s enough to make any parent’s head spin! Our kids’ bustling calendars demand a technological response.

Luckily.our children now grow up tech savvy. Many know how to swipe the screen of an iPad before they can even read. Children have become the focus of a new and growing genre of educational apps designed to develop life skills at an early age. These apps not only teach kids to organize their schedules in the short term, but are also valuable time management skills they will need in the future. With the insurmountable number of at their fingertips, how do we as parents filter the app universe to find the best ones to help our little ones stay organized?

KEY IN ON IMPORTANT FEATURES – Children’ organizational apps, such as calendars and other time management tools should be simple enough for kids of all ages to use. The goal is for your children to want to plan their weeks in advance. It is challenging to select a worthwhile app that will both educate and entertain. Look for apps that utilize all senses to stimulate learning. For instances, easy tap icons, colorful graphics, and pop up screens encourage children to focus. Voice activation tools help children connect vocabulary with ideas and concepts. The more involved your children are, the more they will take away from the app.

YOU’RE NOT ALONE – Fortunately, there are numerous educational websites that have already dedicated endless hours evaluating apps so you do not have to! In most instances, more than one evaluator reviews the app, so you get the point of comparison. With a few simple web searches, you can make a well-informed decision regarding the best app for your child. To stay informed, try visiting these sites on Fridays when the editors publish their top picks, as well as promote apps through sale prices and free giveaways. Another good source is the iTunes Store, which designates apps as “New and Noteworthy” or “Hot.” This gives you an indication of what other parents like you are purchasing.

The best way to pick an app is to involve your children. Ask them whether the app looks like fun and what they think they will learn. At the end of the day, our children are the best judges.