The Digital Obesity Epidemic: Is the Computer Making Your Child Fat?

By on 08-22-2012

When it comes to kids and computer usage, there are plenty of causes for concern. Will your child cross paths with the wrong person while surfing the net? Will too much time on the computer negatively affect your child's social development or verbal communication skills? What if your child sees something inappropriate online (intentionally or otherwise)?

If you're like most parents, these are all questions that have all crossed your mind at one time or another. Unfortunately, there's yet another reason to worry over the amount of time your child is spending behind the glare of his computer monitor. Apparently, the computer could actually be making your child fat.

 More Computer Time = Less Physical Activity

Of course, it's not actually the computer itself that has the potential for packing on the pounds. In fact, it's not what your child is doing at all that may be putting him at risk; it's what he's not doing. The fact is that all that time your child is spending playing computer games, chatting online with friends, and surfing the net could be cutting into the amount of physical activity your child needs daily in order to maintain a healthy weight. To determine whether your child is getting the amount of exercise he needs, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much time does your child spend outdoors each day?
  • Does your child participate in a sport or other physical activity on a regular basis?
  • Which activities does your child engage in most often? Are these activities sedentary or active?

 Even Skinny Kids Are at Risk

You may be thinking to yourself—“but my child’s skinny as a rail; he needs to gain some weight.” Not so fast. Your child’s current weight has little to do with his risk of becoming obese in the future. As you may have noticed from personal experience, a person’s metabolism slows down over time, making weight game from an imbalanced diet or lack of physical activity much more likely. If your child is developing unhealthy computer habits now, these habits will likely follow him as he gets older and his metabolism does take a dip—that is, unless you do something now to change his behaviors.

 What to Do

Luckily, there are steps you can take to reduce your child's chances of developing "digital" obesity. With or without the computer, the foundation of maintaining a healthy weight is a balanced diet. Be sure to provide plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains for him to munch on throughout the day. Remember to limit candy and sweets, and encourage your child to drink more water and less soda.

If your child isn’t getting enough exercise, and you think his computer usage is to blame, you’ll need to start placing boundaries on your child's daily computer allowance. Parental control apps like Qustodio make doing so a breeze. After downloading our free software, you'll receive detailed reports about how much time your child is spending online. That way, you can keep tabs on your child's online activity while simultaneously offering him plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and get some physical activity as well.

Of course, computers alone aren’t solely to blame. Televisions, video game consoles, and even smartphones are also potential culprits, so be sure to monitor your child’s usage of these devices as well.