Health + Fitness

Getting Digital Kids Plugged Into Physical Fitness

As we have been told more and more over the past few years, American kids are becoming obese at historic rates.  Which is little surprise, really.  Kids are more protected, play less, roam less, sit in front of computers and video games more, participate in fewer sports, do waaaay less work, and eat more packaged food than ever before.

Of course they’re getting fat.

The question is:  how can we, as parents, change that?  How can we modify their behaviors so that they play more, roam more, participate in more sports, and do more physical work?  It’s not easy, but here are some ideas.

Go With The Flow
Most child psychologists suggest that, except in the case of immediate and necessary discipline, parents should work with their children rather than against them.  Getting a digitally plugged in kid to mow the lawn might be a challenge.  Getting him interested in horticulture and using apps to assist in the planting and cultivation of a few healthy foods, might be a lot easier.  While the lawn still won’t be mowed, you will have accomplished larger and more important goals.

Engage Social Groups
The more plugged-in a person is, the more susceptible he is to groupthink.  This can be destructive, especially during adolescence.  But savvy parents can use it to their advantage.  By working with the parents of your child’s friends, you can subtly create a group inclination.  For example, if your kids eschew regular sports, they might group together to learn one, like cricket, that is less common in the US.

Give Them Power
Everybody wants to be important, and this is a constant struggle for children, since they are always subject to the rules of their parents, schools, and so on.  Giving them power and free choice makes them feel good, and it is the best way to lead them toward positive choices and attitudes.  How do you empower a digitally plugged in kid to improve his health?  Let him order his own food from a site like where all the options are healthy.

Make It a Family Thing
What do you do for family time?  Most families who set aside family time spend that time doing something fun – like a board game – but not something active.  Turn family time into health planning time.  Encourage your kids to use their superior knowledge of the digital universe to bring ideas for meals, exercise routines, and active adventures to the table.  Most importantly, follow through on the plans you make – especially the ones initiated by your children – in order to create a culture of health and fitness.

There’s an old adage that, even if you lose everything else, if you have your health you still have something.  Failing to establish a healthy foundation for your children’s lives can rob them of that, and creating that foundation is becoming increasingly difficult as children are less challenged and more manipulated than ever.

Still, it’s our obligation as parents.  And it might be the most important obligation that we have.

Drew Hendricks

Drew Hendricks is a tech, social media and environmental addict. He's written for many major publishers such as National Geographic and Technorati.

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