Keeping kids active in the face of technology

Published 9:05 pm Monday, April 6, 2015

Call of Duty, Facebook and Netflix are some of the most recognizable names in technology these days. They offer vehicles for expression, an interactive online experience and, well, something entertaining do on a Saturday afternoon.

Technology — TV, video games and the Internet — are addicting, especially to the kids who are raised knowing nothing else. To them, these devices are more than just pleasurable outlets. They entice the mind, consuming free time and, in some cases, influence political opinions.

Frankly, technology’s affect on kids is and will never be something the baby boomers will fully understand.

In an age where baseball video games have all too often replaced the timeless image of a father playing catch with his son, it’s becoming even more important to make sure kids are getting at least an hour of play each day. And with tempting, fried and fat-filled culinary options so commonplace here in eastern North Carolina, a balanced diet can be a difficult concept to instill in a child, but one that’s vital to their health. And it begins with the parents.

According to a recent study by, the obesity rate among adults in North Carolina has increased more than 15 percent since 1990. As of 2013, nearly 30 percent of adults are considered obese, the eastern part of the state being the primary culprit.

But it’s improved in recent years.

For adults, the number is lower than 2012’s total and for children ages 2 to 17 (about 16 percent), the percentage has dropped off since 2007.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign has raised awareness and the NFL’s Play 60 initiative has been effective, but maintaining a child’s health, undoubtedly, begins with each individual household.

There’s still a long way to go in dropping North Carolina’s weight, and it begins with adults proactively monitoring and enforcing a child’s use of free time. Because in an age submerged with technology, parental authority may be the last frontier in the battle against obesity.

Some tips for regulation a child’s Internet use range from content filters to simply hiding the Ethernet cable. For video games, something as simple as a kitchen timer can let kids know when their time is up. Hiding or, if needed, locking up the controllers can render an Xbox One or PS4 useless.

Above all else, encouragement is key. And if you’re fit enough, participation is also a plus. Shooting some hoops with dad or throwing the ole’ pigskin around with your brother may seem like foreign concepts nowadays, but they are two activities that need to make a comeback.