Joe PorterWednesday, April 12, 2023
Over the past few years, technology has continued to become even more pervasive in America and the world. Technology and screens have both positives and negatives. Of course, technology like dishwashers, washing machines, or electric fans and so much more can be helpful to humanity. However, some wise people argue that technologies such as handheld phones, computers at school, and gaming consoles can be detrimental. I agree, specifically with the fact that technologies are hurting humans', especially Americans', health and is preventing them from getting or staying in good shape. With so many screens and their constant entertainment from moving images distracting kids and adults alike, the health of Americans is concerningly compromised, whether from serious health problems like obesity or just the decline in physical activity in the US.
To start, an article from the Mayo Clinic (one of the premier health institutions in the US) that shows a direct correlation between screen time and body weight in children. It points out that the average American kid is on screens for 7.5 hours per day. This adds up to 52.5 hours (about 2 days) per week. First, this is a lot of time on screens and, more troublingly, not kids are not playing outside or doing physical activity. If Americans (parents even more so) do not start taking this issue seriously, kids will continue to become even less healthy.
This situation is due mostly to social media algorithms. Social media is set up to gorge the human appetite for information, interaction, and reinforcement, and there is an infinite supply of junk information out there. The more kids scroll through their social media feeds the more they will get addicted to the content because it is set up to continuously show them things that they want to see. But sometimes it is important to just unplug and go outside. Nowadays children act like they cannot live without their phone or iPad, but it is important to note that they can. For hundreds of years, children were able to not only survive without screen time but thrive. There is a good chance that if you ask your parent or guardian if they engaged in more physical activity than children nowadays, the answer would be yes. Children in the past would be told to go outside or go to the gym. However, now physical activity has become less of a priority in society. In today’s world, it is seemingly more important for kids to check their Snapchat than make sure they can run a mile. There is a serious need for people to step up and get children off screens and make sure they're active.
Screens are not only affecting children in today’s world. There are adults who are also being negatively affected. With the rise of jobs that force adults to sit, adults are moving around even less. Just sitting in general makes people do fewer fitness-based activities than ever. In America, less than 20% of the work force has a physically active job. The average American with a desk job sits 15 hours a day. This is so much time sitting that the time sitting offsets the health benefits of working out. You could see how this is a significant problem because even people who are trying to physically better themselves by exercise are not getting the benefits, because after they exercise, they are right back to sitting.
As a society we know that sitting as much as we do is not good for us, but few seem to be making any effort to combat it. In school, kids are sitting more than ever thanks to the 1 to 1 laptop programs being implemented. At work, adults are sitting in front of a computer screen all day, and at home families sit down in front of a television. Yet too few of the people in power take this as a significant issue, even though thanks to this sedentary lifestyle, Americans are more obese than ever, more likely to have high blood pressure, and are more susceptible to heart disease. A big reason that people are sitting so much is because they are staring at screens like addicts. With people watching so many hours of TV a day, playing video games, using their phones, and doing work/school on a screen, the time spent on screens is continuing to increase. This trend shows no sign of going away either, because things that used to be done without screens are now being done with screens. For example, even literature is rapidly turning virtual with both books and newspapers being online.
Even though we are so consumed with screens, there are still some easy things Americans can do to stay healthy and become less reliant on them. Little things like standing up every 30 minutes or exercising for an hour a day can play huge roles in keeping you healthy. Also, if you are so addicted to your devices that you cannot put them down, maybe you should try to download a fitness app or read an article about healthy foods to eat. If you do this, at least you are improving your knowledge of healthy habits and giving yourself the information that you need to be healthy. There are ways around the issue of screens in our lives; we as a country just need to put the issue at the forefront. It is concerning that, even though there are advances in medicine and health research every day, issues like obesity continue to rise. It would be incredibly helpful for Americans if we could gradually stop being on screens as much and get outside, play sports, or exercise more often. Changes do not need to and will not come quickly, but any steps in reversing this horrible situation we are in will be good. It is important that we do not let technology negatively impact our health and fitness. Our screens are slowly killing us, and we must do something about it.
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