Weight Loss Even Your Kids will LIKE
Brace yourself! Letting your kids spend a bit of time on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter might actually improve their weight loss efforts.
If there is one common complaint among parents nationwide, it is that their children are spending more time online and on Facebook than they are being active. Many people have even attributed social media sites as one of the causes of childhood obesity. In Fayetteville, more and more children are losing interest in the playground and choosing to spend hours alone in front of a computer screen instead of being active all afternoon.
As hard as this may be for some parents to believe, this might not be entirely a bad thing.
A number of studies have been released this year that evaluated the impact that online communication has on people’s lives—including the lives of adolescents. Several studies looked directly at the impact that “internet-based interventions” have on individuals. That meaning the amount by which Facebook interactions may in fact propel positive changes in a person’s life.
One of these studies was conducted at the Duke University Medical Center. The researchers found that interacting with supportive peers in an online environment can have a big impact on a person’s motivation level and willingness to make changes in their lives. For adolescents in particular, this support was strongest when it was coupled with regular parental involvement and the guidance of a counselor, weight loss doctor or other professional.
The research found that for many adolescents, social networking sites are a gateway into virtual support groups—the type of support groups that many adults physically attend for their own battles with their weight. For children, seeking out support groups has a few more challenges. There will be children there who don’t want to be there, but are forced to by their parents. Then there is the problem with bullying, a problem many adolescents know far too well.
Online, kids are in control. An adolescent can participate in a virtual support group at their leisure. There is no scheduled time to be there, no forced interactions or games to break the ice. There is just a group of kids who are all fighting the battle against childhood obesity, and who are learning how to develop friendships and be there for each other.
Of course, parents need to have some involvement for this process to work. The virtual support groups should be locked, so only members can access the talks. And parents should always monitor the goings on in those groups—not to hear everything their child is saying, but just to ensure that the group is safe and free of inappropriate guests. Most importantly, parents should always hold steadfast to the rule of never allowing their child to meet with online friends unsupervised.
While spending hours on the computer instead of getting some activity isn’t healthy for your child, a little bit of time spent on social media in the right way could encourage your kids to develop healthier habits.