Tablets, phones, laptops and smart TV’s are all a part of our lives. They are here to stay, and I don’t think usage will be reducing anytime soon. Even though this new technology is awesome doesn’t increased screen time get blamed for plenty of negative health factors? Childhood obesity, lack of physical activity and poor core strength are all (apparently) partially due to increased screen time.
So, if screen time is contributing to childhood obesity, lack of physical activity and poor core strength how is exercise at all anyway similar? One word, dopamine.
Dopamine is the hormone produced when you are in a state of pleasure and it makes you feel good. Really good. So good that you want to feel it all the time, so you repeat that same activity over and over to get that happy state.
Dopamine, of course, is great but the activity or action that creates the dopamine is what you need to be aware of. Here is a list of things that can release dopamine.
As you can see there is quite a variety of things that can give you or your child that feel good sensation. Getting dopamine isn’t a bad thing at all, it’s what else occurs during that activity that is important to be aware of as you want to promote the right activities for your child. Besides takings drugs, the activities above all have their place in a balanced lifestyle giving you or your child that feel good hit. Which of the above activities would you like to become a habit for your child?
Exercising, in the sunshine, while listening to good music followed by a tasty post exercise meal certainly sounds nice doesn’t it?
Or how about sitting in a room eating high sugar, processed foods playing play station while checking on Instagram? I’m sure for some of you reading this that sounds good. This is because you already have your habits and it makes you feel good. Don’t get me wrong, we have a Nintendo Switch in our house and on school holidays it’s game on! I love hanging with my boy having fun with Mario Kart but it is not a part of our daily habits.
If you do have a child that is on screens that little bit more than what you’d like, it may be time to help them get their dopamine hits in other ways. What would really help your child succeed is if you are willing to ride the journey with them. You can read some great ideas on activities to do with your child HERE or if you simply can’t do it with them HERE are some options with no parent involvement.
As humans, we like things that make us feel good. That is a no brainer. The challenge is to set the habits that will lead to a lifetime of healthy habits for your child. This is why the right exercise activity that is engaging and fun works for kids. If they find an activity that they enjoy they will get that dopamine release and want to do it again and again. I have had many parents blackmail their kids with my training sessions before as they love it that much, they want to come back every day…why? Absolutely because they had the best time but also they had a huge release of dopamine. When this happens, the brain tells the body to do it again because it feels good.
Screen time and exercise. Similar, yet so very different.