The year is coming to an end! And we will now get into reflecting what ‘got-done’ and what ‘did-not-get-done’ in the year. If i tell you that, we are inadvertently shrinking our kids – how would you react?
This blog is about the physical (and Mental) handicap our children are facing due to lifestyle changes of our society. We are increasingly getting less physical and more sedentary – that is not good.
I wonder if you have seen this 1989 live-action comedy film – Honey, I Shrunk the Kids ! The plot goes like this – an inventor Prof. Szalinski experiments with an electromagnetic human shrinking machine. He leaves the device unattended; shortly afterwards, it is accidentally activated. Alas, the demon machine is aimed at his children. The kids, shrunk to 1/4-inch height, are tossed into the trash. For the rest of the film, our tiny protagonists attempt to gain their parents’ attention – to survive the wilds of the backyard, that threaten their well-being. Remember this as you read on …
In real life the subject is a lot more serious – right in front of our eyes – something like the film is happening to our kids. Inadvertently our generation of parents is poised to shrink (metaphorically :)) our kids and may be send them up a path of Counter Evolution**.
I am sure everyone remembers Mr Darwin and his theory ‘Survival of the Fittest’. Our physical human body got evolved as a great combination of intelligence, adaptability and strength – we are the nature’s best creation – we evolved in body as hunters and farmers. And so our physical constitution, complimented this strength to hunt for our food or grow crops. Both of these required physical labour – none of that hunting or farming we need to do today!
So what do you think is happening to our Body and its Capabilities? See the picture below, does it ring a bell?
Its only in last 2 decades we ushered in this big Shrinking Machine – the automation, technology and IT – making us lazy and glued to devices – resulting in massive reduction in physical activity. So most of us don’t farm, don’t hunt and don’t do any physicals. Mr Nature is pretty confused – this wonderful human physique was never designed to : Sit on chairs or bed …or Work on computers … or Look at some or the other screen ‘All Day’.
Lifestyle changes of the day is a large threat to the physical well-being of our societies than we could possibly think. And the worst hit segment of this change in society are “OUR KIDS”.
Now that is what I am calling – the body’s **Counter Evolution.
Modern kids are glued to screens of various kinds – I pads, Smart phones, LED TVs, Laptops, PSPs, X-Box, video games etc. The modern parents – both go to work – kids have lesser parent time – and they do what is easy and gratifying – Nothing. Thats the Catch.
Experts on Whats Happening to our Kids!
- Children are Getting Weaker! This is interesting – a study published in the child health journal Acta Paediatrica compared children 10 years of age, 10 years apart (Year 1998- 315 children and Year 2008 – 309 children). Compared to 1998 group, 2008 children could do lesser sit ups ( -27%), had lesser arm strength (-26%), lesser number of them could not pull up their own weight (-50%) and, even more alarming is that kids of 2008 batch carried much more fat than muscle.
To summarize the study –
“Children are becoming sedentary, weaker, less muscular, heavier, unable to do physical tasks that previous generations found simple.”
- Well to do Children at more Risk! As per paediatricians – Dr Nidhish Nanavaty, prevalence of obesity is estimated to be 10% in children below 14 years of age while it shoots up to 50% in children of high-income families. Its the excessive nutrition to blame – too much is being given to children to eat. Children of wealthy parents are thus at a greater risk.
Problem we are not Solving?
This problem at hand – is a typical Covey’s 2nd Quadrant item -‘important but not urgent’. So we all understand that it is a major problem but since it is not immediate, and not too urgent to solve, hence the ‘Action to Solve’ gets postponed. The devil is in Habits – of junk food, of addiction to modern gadgets, of sedentary lifestyle. What is the solution?
Questions and Suggestions
If this lifestyle is not good for future of our kids … then what do we need to change?
- Are kids screen addicted? This one is a killer of good habits. Being stuck to a screen is an addiction – kids leave one screen to go to the other. This is slowly affecting their social behaviour and health. It would pay if we do not provide the modern gadgets to the kids too early in age. Parents will have to fix the screen time for the children.
- Are they doing enough Outdoors? One of the important healthy habit to nurture in children is to have a decent volume of physical activity everyday. They have tremendous energies and those need to be positively find expression. Sports and outdoors fill that gap very well.
Healthy Mind in Healthy Body – So how do we get this Outdoors and Physical activity into daily routines of our kids. Traditionally– this physical outdoor activity habit is inculcated in 3 forms –
- Children should endeavour to play at least one field or team game – such as hockey, football, basket ball etc; Team games are known to develop body, character and team spirit.
- Pick up one individual game – Individual games such as athletics, swimming, tennis, squash, badminton, taekwondo or golf – are known to develop physical fitness, skills, personal excellence and competitive spirit.
- Its good to nurture one or two hobbies in outdoors space – trekking, wall climbing, biking, mountaineering, skiing, hiking, kayaking or canoeing etc.
Family Adventure Activities is Best Answer 🙂
The good Schools of the yore, normally would take care of above three things. Expecting to find these solutions in city schools is a long shot, but, taking your child out for an adventurous activity is in your hands for sure. In addition to many things that you would plan for year coming up – taking your children on outdoors adventure activity, should be high on your list. Not only does this increase family bonding, you would also give to your children, the most precious habit for life – the love of outdoors and open skies.
Parents seem to be overlooking the Shrinking Machine that is stunting their kids’ growth. May be its time for Parents to make a resolution for New Year – Break the sedentary lifestyle and …
Your Resolution could sound like – have an Outdoors Focus – Get them into some sports and take them out for a family adventure outing … You would do long term good to them … and launch them well in life!
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself ….
….. You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.” Khalil Gibran
I would be so keen to know what you think of it and how do we get out of this real life problem of our generation? Please leave a comment or suggestion.
- Watching TV Linked To Kids’ Weight Gain As They Age; Screen Time Spurs Unhealthy Eating Habits (medicaldaily.com)
- An Overlooked Factor in the Childhood Obesity Epidemic (psychologytoday.com)
- Kids: Get Them Moving (psychologytoday.com)
- Parents Who Set, Stick to Rules May Help Kids Stay Slim (nlm.nih.gov)
- Make fitness a family affair in 2014 (onlineathens.com)