The behaviours and traits of today’s children

The behaviours and traits of today’s children, along with their genetics, are determinants of their growth and development, their mental health, and their physical performance. There is no question that inactivity has become a major health threat to Australia, and with some recent studies showing only one in five children meet the recommended 60 minutes or more each day of moderate to vigorous physical activity (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013). A less obvious contributor to this inactive lifestyle among children just happens to be, technology. Technological advances of the modern day society have contributed to the inactive lifestyle that has changed children from that of 20 years ago. According to Erica Roth (HealthLine, 2012) children today weigh more and have a higher BMI than their peers of just a generation earlier. The evolution of technology has reached a point where the health of children could be in jeopardy due to them focusing more on their screen-time than their physical health. Though technology is often blamed for increasing levels of physical inactivity in children, researchers are also learning that innovative use of technology such as active gaming and fitness trackers can allow children to be active while having fun.
To begin with, child inactivity can be caused by over use of technology tools. Spending hours in front of screen, whether it is a television or computer, can quickly contribute to a serious decrease in the amount of physical activity that a child gets throughout the day. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, nine in ten households with children have access to a variety of electronic devices within their home (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011). Children need at least 60 minutes of physical movement each day to maintain a healthy weight and level of fitness (Department of Health, 2017). With only one in five meeting this requirement (Department of Health, 2017), Australian children are receptive to the short term negative effects such as weight gain and in the long run are more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and several types of cancer (CDC, 2017). A recently conducted survey demonstrated that ….. children are choosing to sit in front of a digital screen instead of participating in some form of physical activity. The more tech-time that a child engages in, the less likely it is that they will get daily dose of physical activity.
Despite the negative links associated with technology and physical activity, there are changes in the way in which children are spending their screen time, which can be far from sedentary. Interactive video gaming otherwise known as active gaming is an emerging technology with the potential to overcome many of the current barriers to physical inactivity in children (Biddiss and Irwin, J, 2010) Active video games are electronic games that allow children to physically interact using whole-body movements with images onscreen in a variety of activities such as sports and other activities such as dancing, washing windows etc (BMC Public Health, 2009). Games such as Wii Sports and XBOX are dependent on player movement through a sensor. Another example of interactive gaming is of smartphone applications, such as Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go gameplay happens in the real world, not on a couch (Health.gov, 2016). It requires players to collect Pokémon mythical creatures by getting outside and exploring their environment. In a time where technology is at the hands of children, companies such as these are using its advantages to promote an active lifestyle.
Not only can children physically benefit from active gaming, another way is through fitness trackers. Like most technological advancements, fitness trackers such as Garmin and LeapFrog LeapBand watches are the latest craze among children. These devices are designed to encourage kids to be active through challenges like reaching their daily step goal. Those concerned about technology causing children to be sedentary should consider these technological advancements because they do indeed encourage physical activity in children.
A rational person would concur that as technology increases, so does inactivity of children. There is no doubt that children spend a great deal of time with their eyes glued to either a TV screen or another device throughout the day. Children are naturally more inactive with than without this technology. However, points have been made to show that technology should not entirely be blamed for the decline of physical activity amongst children. It is evident that technology is not normally associated with physical activity, yet it can help in the battle of the promoting physical health in children through its advantage of fitness trackers and active gaming.