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A seven-year-old boy recently asked NASA for advice on how to become an astronaut. And because they're cool that way, the space agency responded in kind.
What would the world be like if we encouraged all our kids this way when they demonstrated interest in something they love?
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Now, healthcare professionals and tech companies are attempting to promote healthier living among children and help those children who are sick cope with their illnesses.
When it comes to getting kids to eat healthier, there are several tools that can help. Food N’ Me is an interactive website that aims to promote healthy eating among children. Also within the category of helping children eat healthy is ZisBoomBah, which offers online educational games to help children and parents learn about food in a fun way. KidsDental aims to teach children about basic tooth care by using Pixar-like animated characters.
Technology is also encouraging children to get active. Work It Off is an Android app that teaches children how they can work off the calories they ingest. Trainer is a game developed by a group of students from The University of Southern California... The goal of the game is to give children the opportunity to discover and share health information. iOS app MotionMaze is a puzzle game powered by movement.
Tech companies are also attempting to improve children’s health for those affected with illness. Jerry the Bear, aims to help children with Type 1 diabetes manage their illness using a teddy bear embedded with hardware, AI and accompanying software. The Pain Squad Mobile App collects data on the child’s pain so it could be more effectively managed.
Clearly, the way in which the world is approaching the topic of children’s health is a revolution in progress. Technology is encouraging children to eat right, be active and take ownership of their health. However, getting children to actually adopt, continuously use and enjoy these types of educational digital experiences may prove to be the biggest challenge.
Although researchers said that they did find a slight correlation between the two, they also found that other influences like "parenting styles" are more of a cause than regular long periods of screen time. The reason they continue to advise less screen time is because it cuts into other important activities like spending time playing with friends, doing homework, and spending time with parents and siblings.
"We found no effect with screen time for most of the behavioural and social problems that we looked at and only a very small effect indeed for conduct problems, such as fighting or bullying," said lead author Dr. Alison Parkes.
Here's another study showing the traditional bias against "screen time" is unfounded.
Obviously there is a strong case for not allowing your child to play adult-themed games such as the Grand Theft Auto franchise, and no parent wants their child to turn into a video game addict, incapable of separating reality from fantasy. However, ruling out video games completely from your child's cultural diet can do more harm than good. And here's why.