Parents are largely to blame for kids' sedentary lifestyle, new study finds

Really? Who would have thought? And how much did this cost? It was rather obvious.

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

About 75% of all American children are enrolled in daycare centers and, so a new study was published this week in the American Journal of Pediatrics finds, these daycare children are largely sedentary and are only spending 2-3% of their day doing vigorous physical activity.

This is way down from the recommended levels and it means that the vast majority of American children are starting out their lives way behind in gross motor skills and in social skills. Could this be the reason for the bullying epidemic and the obesity epidemic? The researchers found three reasons for the largely sedentary lifestyle in daycare:

  1. Injury concerns (Daycare providers say that parents urge them not to let the children play vigorously, for fear of injury)

  2. Financial (They don't have the money to buy safe equipment and also state that the equipment that is "safe" isn't interesting or fun for kids so they don't see any reason to waste the money. That's ironic, isn't it?)

  3. Emphasis on academics (Apparently parents are demanding their kids know the letters and numbers at an early age and are far more concerned about this than about making sure their kids got plenty of physical activity.)

The problem is that these children spend most of the day in school and not at home, so by the time they get home, it's time for dinner and then bedtime, so they don't get the chance to play at home either.

Think back for a minute to when you were a kid. Do you remember sitting around learning numbers and letters? Of course not. You remember riding bikes to the pool, catching fireflies, or maybe climbing a tree with your best friend.

When I was a kid school was not a subject as I was “homeschooled”, so to speak, in that I learned reading and writing and the rest from friendly adults rather than attending a school. The rest of the time it was a case of being out and about, hunting, and making a living selling things and grinding knives.

Obviously children need to read, but people have been learning to read for hundreds and thousands of years, so why do we think we need to drill this into our children's head at age 3? Why do we think we need computer programs to teach our children to read? Yes, you read that right. They now use computer programs to teach children to read. Sorry, run this by me again very slowly so I can take notes; a computer program??? Whatever happened to real teaching?

Who in their right mind would send his child to Kindergarten just to sit in front of a computer and learn to read? They can do that at home if such a program is useful; which I doubt. Children learn by doing, by interacting, and by touching, experts agree, and not by computers.

Sure, computers are fine, and especially in moderation, but I find it extremely alarming that local public school are using a computer program as the primary teaching plan for children. Hello, where are the teachers, the humans? Doing paperwork?

This all illustrates so clearly how the emphasis on academics is stealing childhood from our children. It is high time that we all, but especially the parents of those children (I don't have kids) did protest against this.

Homework, too, is getting so totally out of control in many grade schools that kids don't even have time to play outside after school. Once they have done their homework it is time for bed and play may have to be relegated to the weekend. This is a tragedy and it is no wonder that many children today are suicidal. Getting a good score when they are ten years old doesn't guarantee success in life and the pressure needs to be taken off.

People grow up to be successful and happy in life when they are confident, self-reliant, and aren't lazy and are willing to work for success.

When we deprive our children the opportunity to play outside and play with other children, we rob them of chances to learn these valuable skills.

Let's give our children something to remember about their childhood, other than sitting in front of a computer while they learn numbers and letters. Let's make some memories with our kids and quit worrying so much about test scores.

Furthermore our ever increasing pressure on the children to become high achievers academically robs them of all creativity and if a child rather wants to do something with his or her hands, be it carpentry, metal smithing, or gardening, forestry and such, they are being discouraged.

No wonder so many kids drop out as well. Those that have no interest in the academic subjects and would rather starts and apprenticeship and learn a “trade”.

Let's bring some sense back into learning (note I did not say school or schooling but learning) for much more can be learned away from school than in school. I am proof of that and so are many others.

We also must get children off the digital stuff a little more. Does an 8-year-old really have to have an iPhone, a Facebook account (it is even, theoretically, illegal for anyone below 13 to have such an account), and such like? A cell phone, maybe, if they are out a lot and such and then one where they can call but home, their parent's cell and the police, say. So, as an emergency tool rather than anything else and it is irrelevant whether their peers have iPhones, and such.

I agree with access to a PC – with parental controls and parental control – but not for them to do their own thing on their own. Much better to be outside and do things, including useful stuff like having a garden.

© 2012