Children’s Health News You Can Use

The Effects of Violent Television on Kids

As a child, my parents insisted their four kids pick one main television show per week to watch and supplement it with educational TV. So the local PBS station was usually on when I was a wee one. The older we became, we were not allowed to watch anything racy, violent or something which dealt with adult topics. But TV in the 70’s and 80’s was a lot different than it is now. My brother chose shows like “Star Trek” and my sister and I chose shows like “Little House on the Prairie”. These were good shows for kids to watch.

A 2011 study showed that pre-schoolers watched about 4.1 hours of television and other screen activities daily. What they watch is as important as what they eat. In another study just recently published, children who were allowed to watch anything they wanted tended more toward aggressiveness, yelling to get what they wanted and had poor social skills. Parents in the group were given age-appropriate viewing guidelines and reported that the children showed more empathy, were less aggressive and had better socialization skills when watching suitable programs to enjoy. While it may be easy to plunk a child down on the couch and turn the TV on to keep them occupied, it is better to take the time and watch television with them. What an adult thinks is funny content can be completely in- appropriate for a pre-school age child.

Taxes on Sodas May Lesson Child Obesity

Most Americans do not like the idea of government sticking their nose in to our pantries and refrigerators. The state of New York has somehow passed some laws which ban super-sized sodas in the movie theaters and the ones sold on the street. In California, a recent poll showed that the vast majority of respondents were opposed to the same kind of tax. Yet, when it was mentioned that the tax money would go toward health and fitness in the schools more than half supported it. This tells us that we think, as adults, it is okay to be overweight and choose less healthy food and barely get any exercise, but it is not for our children. Additionally, the city of Oakland, California gave bags of fresh fruit and vegetables to 15 families last year and about half of the children in those families lost or maintained weight.

Making Health Food Choices Accessible

The lack of grocery stores and even small community markets in lower income neighborhoods is a part of the problem. Retailers do not want to open in possibly crime prone areas. Some small stores in these places barely carry fresh fruit and or other healthy food and snacks. These businesses are where school age children stop to and from school to get something to eat. In some cities, local non-profits are supplying fresh fruit and incentives for small businesses to give to kids, and seem to be working. These are smart improvements in areas where none might otherwise be done.

They Need to Know as They Grow

There are many programs on TV today which are specifically geared to children which teach them something they need to know as they grow. Kids may find adult comedies funny, and especially the young ones, do not have the cognitive skills needed to understand what they are watching. Put aside time to watch television with little ones and ask them questions about what they are watching to see if they understand it.

Personally, there was never a Twinkie, a bag of Doritos or a six-pack of soda in my parent’s house. An after school snack was an apple or some pretzels. As an adult who moved out on her own after college graduation, I dove into those goodies and quickly gained weight. Thinking back – moderation is a better way to go. An unhealthy snack every now and then would not hurt. But a diet which includes junk food on a regular basis promotes a lifetime of poor health and eventual obesity. A bag of apples costs a little bit less than a bag of cookies.