Recently a girl came to me for consultation, asking specifically for a weight reduction diet. You will be surprised to know that the girl is just about 15 years old and yet to appear for her 10th-grade examination and can easily pass off as being on the heavier side (obese). While I was talking to her, she casually happened to mention that she has a habit of “munching snacks late at night while surfing the internet”. My observation says that this has become a common trend in today’s times.
Social media is now used for a host of different reasons and gone beyond just social interaction. It’s extended to information and even to seek entertainment. A life without internet seems next to impossible and unimaginable, but an excess of anything is bad and that is quite visible in the society in the recent times.
Social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are increasingly becoming popular among adolescents. Numerous studies have shown that Internet addiction has an adverse effect on several lifestyle-related factors in adolescents. Some important ill effects of the same are:-
- Irregular dietary habits
- Physical inactivity
- Increased use of alcohol and tobacco
- Adverse impact on the growth and development
- Indirect negative effects through sleep deprivation
Studies have shown that people are more likely to have meals while sitting at the computer than at the dining table. Majority of people are multitasking by working on different things at the same time such as eating food while surfing on internet, chatting with friends (Facebook) and writing emails etc. This multitasking is making us less efficient and productive.
Children are socializing through media channels and direct communication has now become limited. I know of a boy who is a champion in some of the online games while he simply hates to play anything in its physical form. He can almost be termed as a “couch potato” at the age of 8, which is very harmful for his overall development. Today, there is an increase in Child, Teenage and adult obesity than ever before. Excess weight issues or Obesity increases the risk of many other chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Research indicates that the light from the screens of TV/computer affects melatonin production, a key hormone in the body’s clock, or circadian system. This causes sleep deprivation as it interrupts deep, restorative sleep eventually causing an increase in stress and depressive symptoms. Thus, teaching adolescents to develop healthy eating habits is of critical importance.
Parents should act as a role model for their children by adopting a healthy lifestyle themselves. Providing nutritious meals and snacks, daily physical activity, and nutrition education can prevent many a life style disorders. Also meal time should be the family time as it provides children great opportunity to learn about healthy foods, balanced meals, and table manners and offers good time to spend with family. Parents should be vigilant on the use of internet by their children. To avoid the conflicts clear guidelines should be set regarding the time of the day your child is allowed to be online and for how long.