The Toronto Star reports that TV and computer use harms the health of kids hearts - even more so that other sedentary pass times. This article is better than the alarmist articles we often see in the media about kids overusing technology.
It does a good job of explaining how researchers came to this conclusion and why TV watching, video-gaming and browsing the web seems to be worse than say, reading a book or playing with LEGO.
The researchers report that people, kids included, eat more when they are involved in screen-time than other activities. I guess we are less conscious of what we're putting into our mouths when we're so involved in what's happening on screen.
I remember reading about another study that demonstrated how people ate more stale popcorn when watching a movie than when they were given it in a conference room before hand. The eating was less of a conscious act.
As is often the case, it's not that the technology usage itself is bad. It's the context in which we use it. And I think we can, and should, do something about this.
In our house we enforce a no food while using a tablet or PC rule for the kids. To be honest it's been mostly because of the sticky fingers and crumbs! But it looks like there's good reason to keep this rule in place as the kids get older so that they don't get into the habit of shoving food in when they are distracted.
This is a good reminder to make sure kids don't get into bad habits while they are young that will cause them major problems as they get older.
No bowls of snacks to nibble while they are playing on the Wii. No eating ice-cream while they browse the web. And no candy between levels of Cut the Rope (nom nom) on the tablet.
Having to come away from the video game or app or even homework when you need a drink or a snack is a healthy habit for children to form.
And of course it's a good habit for parents to model as well (um yes, guilty!)