March 20, 2012

Children and Their iPads

Filed under: children,iPhone — drwatson @ 8:34 pm

Child on an IpadThe correlation between video games and childhood obesity has been studied since the rise of video games in the early 80’s.  Since then, video games have become more enticing, more realistic, and more compelling than the video games of old.  The iPad and similar devices are new platforms that lead to this path of larger children and adults because of its portability and long battery life.  Children are spending more time with their iPads than they are engaging in physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), obesity in 6-11 year old children has gone from 7% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008.  There was an increase within adolescents aged 12-19 from 5% to 18%.   Many media outlets emphasize the need for children and iPads as a replacement for the television and video games, though that doesn’t answer the original question about whether these forms of distraction are good in the first place.

In order to remain healthy, the CDC recommends that the average child do at least 1 hour of physical activity each day.  Here are some of the differences between obese and healthy children:

Obese children:

  • Are at higher risk for heart disease.
  • Are more likely to develop diabetes.
  • Are at greater risk for bone and joint problems.
  • Are candidates for psychological problems such as poor self esteem.
  • Are at an increased risk for certain types of cancers.

Healthy children:

  • Have increased physical activity.
  • Have lower risk of types of cancers.
  • Have healthy eating habits.

Not only do iPads increase the likelihood of obesity, but they stem the child’s cognitive abilities as well.  The iPad acts as a babysitter, and children’s attention spans are lowering.  The number of iPad apps for children is rising as a result of this trend.  With more children having iPads and mobile devices at their disposal, the market is becoming saturated with educational applications.

Benefits of Children and iPads

The iPad can also positively influence a child’s cognitive ability.  Because of the interactive nature of the iPad, children are learning their numbers and letters, engaging with shapes, and more.  A few positive applications include: Fish School, an application which teaches children their numbers and letters, Math Bingo, where children get to fill out math problems on a bingo card, and 123 World Geography, a coloring exercise for children to learn their world geography.

Developers are also creating iPad apps for children with special needs.  Those special needs children are becoming more socially adept, receiving language skills, and more.   There is also an increase in confidence with special needs children as a result of their interaction with the iPad.

While obesity and cognitive dysfunction are concerns when children use iPads, the positive effects of iPads and children can be accentuated with limited use.  Parents should limit their child’s iPad use to between 1 and 2 hours a day, and use the remaining time for interaction, physical activity, and unstructured play.

December 17, 2009

Diabetes in Children: What You Need To Know

Diabetes in ChildrenThe cause of diabetes is unknown; however it has been linked to genetics, certain environmental triggers and lifestyle habits, such as eating right and exercising often. Today, about 7.8 percent of Americans living in the United States have diabetes. An alarming amount of those people are children. Similar to adults, children are equally susceptible to diabetes, although children are more likely to develop Type 1 diabetes as opposed to Type 2.

Why is My Child More Likely to Develop Type 1 Diabetes?
Type 1 Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, a chemical that breaks down glucose in the blood. It is estimated that approximately ninety-three percent of all diabetic cases in youth are Type 1. While Type 2 diabetes has been linked to obesity, the reason for frequent cases of Type 1 diabetes in children is not entirely known. Some evidence suggests that Type 1 diabetes may be linked to allergies, and that avoiding cow’s milk during an infant’s first year of life may reduce the risk of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes has also been diagnosed in children after recovering from viral infections including influenza, polio, rubella, measles and mumps. There are several other factors that have led to Type 1 diabetes in children, such as genetics and diet.

How Can I Can I Tell If My Child Has Developed Diabetes?
Common symptoms of diabetes include thirst, weight loss, exhaustion, and frequent urination. Diabetes in children is also characterized by stomach pains, headaches and behavior problems. If you are concerned that your child may have some of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your family doctor.

What Is The Treatment For Children With Diabetes?
Though there is no cure for diabetes, it can be easily managed with insulin treatment. For children, the most common methods of insulin treatment are injections and insulin pumps. Lifestyle change is an avid combatant against diabetes; adapting you and your child’s lifestyle to more healthy alternatives such as regular physical exercise and healthy eating habits is crucial in managing your child’s diabetes.

There is no proof that diabetes is caused in children by any specific factor, so there is no need for anxiety concerning the condition that your child possibly could develop, and no need to ration your child’s sugar intake as if you’re in a famine. Though transitioning into a lifestyle that supports the prevention of diabetes in your child may seem daunting, just take small steps at a time.

Remember, even if part of your child’s life is managing diabetes, it isn’t their (or your) whole life, so enjoy it!

 

August 31, 2009

15% of Preschoolers Suffer From High Levels of Depression or Anxiety

Filed under: anxiety,childhood,children,Depression,preschool,Uncategorized — drwatson @ 11:06 am

Think that the children have it easy? Well it looks like you thought wrong. According to a recent study, 15% of preschoolers suffer from high levels of depression and anxiety. While some minor forms of depression and anxiety are normal in young children, elevated levels are very concerning. Difficult temperaments and maternal depression were found to be the most important risk factors.

Now I want to know what this means. Is it simply a factor of childhood, or is it a reflection of the world in which we know live in? Or was there just an abnormally high amount of depressed people in the testing region? The reason for the high rate of depression amongst preschoolers is unknown to me, but the one thing that is most alarming is the fact that 15% of preschoolers are suffering from abnormally high levels of depression and anxiety.

How is it that 15% of children who are not even in school yet are feel depressed and anxious. What are they depressed about? The only thing I can think of is, blame the parents. Sure maybe not all the cases are the parents fault, but at the same time, I don’t see how it is possible, in most of the cases, to not be the parents fault. The children haven’t really been exposed to the world and have only had the chance to take in the emotions, and general energy of the parents. Some sort of change needs to happen first with the parents because we can’t have a society where that many people are depressed. They deserve better.

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