Many people have asked the question “Is technology making us unhealthy?”
According to Elle Paula Author of Obesity in Children and Technology “About one-third of American children and teenagers are overweight or obese, making childhood obesity the leading health concern for parents in the United States.” She also goes on to state that the average child has about 7 hours a day of screen time (watching TV, searching the web, playing games, etc.). This screen time enhances sedentary behaviour, snacking and interferes with sleep. Because of the increase in these behaviours Paula believes that technology is linked to childhood obesity. Others like Lindsay Holms and Leah Borne go as far to say it is changing our brains and our bodies. They give examples like tech neck, head aches, low sperm count or the text claw. These are all things that were never issues in the past.
But wait, there is technology today that encourages people to be healthy in multiple ways. One could argue that there are many fitness apps and game councils designed to get people moving. Even many teachers are pulling up youtube videos or GoNoodles to take brain breaks in their classes. For example:
Kristina E. Hatch also says that technology is making us healthier socially as well. She discusses how technology like social media can widen our social circles “may act as a way for children to develop and sustain emotional bonds with peers, as well as carve their own identity.” This was not possible in the past. But there is a downside to the connection as well. The online bullying is a huge part of social well being too.
There are so many arguments about what is healthy and what is not. A person could argue for or against technology. But my position seems to sit right in the middle. How can I argue with the facts that screen time enhances sedentary behaviour or lack of sleep? Those are obviously unhealthy but, I feel like technology can also get us moving in many ways we were not before. I think the best way to find a middle ground is education. Teaching people what it means to be healthy and the benefits of it will allow people to use whatever technology or lack of technology they want in their lives. If we can teach people to be healthy then they can use technology to encourage their health. After all technology is not going anywhere. Whether you think it is so unhealthy everyone should where tin hats because of wifi or you think it is the next best thing, we need to recognize that we are going to need to learn how to be healthy with technology.
So my next question is how can I use technology to teach my students to be healthier. I do use GoNoodle in my class for breaks and often use technology to teach about health but, do I use it to encourage health. I’m not sure. Are there more ways to use technology to get students active or communicating in positive ways? Let me know if you have any idea 🙂