Facts with Hope
FACT: A recent study by the National Sleep Foundation found that playing video games, checking e-mails and text messages and watching television may be depriving us from getting enough sleep. Nearly 95% of people questioned in the study said they used some type of electronics in the hour before going to bed, and about two-thirds admitted they do not get enough sleep during the week. Exposure to artificial light before going to bed can increase alertness and suppress the release of melatonin, a sleeppromoting
HOPE: By making a small change in electronic use before bed, you can make a big positive impact on sleep, mood, health, relationships, stress management, work productivity, and academic performance. A realistic start may be to choose a few evenings each week in which you use non-electronic options for winding down in the evening and turn off the phone before you go to bed.
FACT: The Journal of Pediatrics reports that teen girls who spend a lot of recreational time on the Internet are more likely to see their weight creeping slowly up than adolescents who spend less time in front of the computer screen. The association between computer use and weight held true even when the researchers accounted for the amount of exercise the girls were getting.
HOPE: Rather than merely imposing limits on computer time, encourage your teen daughter to engage in additional recreational activities, such as after-school sports and clubs, hobbies, musical instruments, or volunteering at local charities. If she is spending time in other pursuits, she will likely be using up more calories than sitting at the computer.
FACT: More than half of adolescents log on to a social media Web site at least once a day, and nearly one-quarter of teens say they log on to their favorite social media sites 10 or more times each day, reports the American Academy of Pediatrics. Due to limited capacity for self-regulation and susceptibility to peer pressure, children and adolescents are at risk for cyberbullying, "sexting" and exposure to inappropriate content, “Facebook depression,” Internet addiction and sleep deprivation.
HOPE: You can protect your child from the risks of social media by talking with them about the healthy use of social media, setting limits, being “friends” with your child on Facebook and other social media sites, and monitoring for potential problems.
FACT: According to a study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association, too much TV increases cardiovascular risk for kids. The study found that 6 to 7-year-olds who spent the most time watching TV had narrower arteries in the back of their eyes, putting them at increased risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes when they are older.
HOPE: Children with the highest levels of physical activity - an hour or more - had significantly wider retinal arteries on average than those who spent less than half an hour a day being physically active. This suggests that replacing one hour a day of screen time with physical activity could make a difference in whether your child develops cardiovascular disease later in life.