Keeping Kids Out of Trouble Through
study was reviewed by Michael Eckstein M.D. on March 31, 2006 on the Science
Daily web site. As a psychologist and father I completely concur with the study
and conclusions. We're not doing our children any big favors by allowing
videogames and televisions to be the default babysitters. In fact, we're doing
them a serious disservice in my opinion.
reported that the lead researcher, Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen, an assistant
professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill,
reported that although much has been made of the importance of exercise in
fighting the swelling problem of childhood obesity, "there are clearly benefits
to exercise other than weight control" said Dr. Gordon-Larsen.. "And kids who
spend their free time in front of the TV are missing out on those benefits" she
added. "It's clear there can be adverse effects to watching TV", Dr.
Gordon-Larsen said in relation to research that links violent or sexual content
on television shows to kidís behavior. But beyond the effects of media, she said
that children who spend their free time on the couch miss out on the
socialization, teamwork and skill development that comes with being active. She
concluded that among the nearly 12,000 middle and high school students in her
study, those who were physically active were much less likely than their couch
potato peers to smoke, drink, use drugs or have sex. Also, they often had
higher grades and higher self-esteem. Dr. Gordon-Larsen stated that "across the
board, children who engaged in any kind of activity were better off than kids
who watched a lot of TV."
She said these
findings which were also published in Pediatrics, does not mean that the
activities have to be traditional sports. In fact, she found that kids who
favored "alternative" activities like skateboarding also had higher levels of
self-esteem and were less prone to take health risks.
The bottom line for parents according to the researcher is
that they should encourage their kids to pursue whatever activities they happen
to enjoy, and that if Mom and Dad can handle skateboarding or enjoy other
activities with their children, even better. Teens in the study who engaged in
sports and exercise with their parents were particularly likely to remain on the
straight and narrow.
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Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate
(Health and Geriatric Psychologist)
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