With So Many Kids Online And Plugged Into Technology Are We Losing Sight Of What A Real Childhood Is All About?

A recent study shows that 81% of two-year-olds have a digital footprint. Really? And you thought you were spending too...
A recent study shows that 81% of two-year-olds have a digital footprint. Really? And you thought you were spending too much time online. AVG, an Internet security firm, just released some new survey results that show the following trends among the youngest surfers...
  • The average six-month-old baby already has an online presence courtesy of their parents
  • 33% of little ones have their images posted online from birth, while 23% of mamas noted that they post pre-birth baby scans online before their baby arrives.
  • 7% of babies have an email address.
Wow. Actually online babies have popped up before. Back in 2007 I posted about a two-year-old with his own website. His mama had been using said site to spout off about how incredibly smart her baby was - up to typing on his own site (at 2 years!) - um, right. But I digress. My point is that this really surprised me in 2007, and a baby with a major online presence still kind of surprises me now. As a blogger I guess online kids shouldn't surprise me, but come on; when people are talking about toddler Twitter toys (joke or not) it's gone a little too far. Other research shows that parents are even purchasing their baby’s domain name, Facebook and Twitter names before their child has even been born. Is this just a wee bit nuts? Really, it makes me insane even to see how much kids text. I see eight-year-olds texting, parents who allow little kids to text at dinner and much more. It's obnoxious. In case you think it's normal and healthy for kids to be so plugged in to online media and other electronics, here are some sobering figures to consider...
  • Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds - this study points out that 8-18 year-old kids today spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes using entertainment media in ONE day. That’s 58 hours a week. Guess how much time that leaves for exercise and other activities? If you said, "Not much" congrats, you get a big cookie.
  • The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 has more than doubled in the past 20 years, to 17 percent of children in this age group.
  • The rate of clinically obese adolescents (aged 12-19) has more than tripled, to 17.6 percent.
  • The rising childhood obesity rates comes with serious health issue for kids like respiratory difficulties, chronic musculoskeletal problems, skin problems and infertility, insulin resistance such as type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease and osteoarthritis. Raised BMI also increases the risks of cancer of the breast, colon, prostate, endometroium, kidney and gallbladder.
  • The Centers for Disease Control notes that the obesity rise among kids has occurred due to the total lack of physical activity in kids lives.
Not enough? Consider that this is officially the very first generation ever with a predicted shorter life span than their parents - and research sites obesity and lack of activity as the cause. Does my nine-year-old have a cell phone. Hell no. He doesn't have an illegal Facebook account, he's not tweeting or Linked In or hanging out on MySpace. Why? Because I want him to have a healthy childhood. Kids should be playing outside, running around and otherwise experiencing life. They do not belong plugged into every single online opportunity there is. Electronics and the Internet have made life today very different, in some ways yes, better. I don't think it's bad to post your kids pictures so friends and family can see. I don't think it's bad to teach your kids to smartly and safely use the Internet. TV is not the devil. I get that kids won't zone out if they have some access to electronic experiences. All that said, we need to use common sense if we want to raise healthy kids and part of that common sense is knowing that kids need other things first, before technology, things like fresh air, activity and human connections, not simply online pals. Also see: What do you think of babies with online accounts? Do you think all of these expanding technology opportunities benefit kids or not? Image via www.avg.com.

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