Children are becoming increasingly influenced by media and are almost constantly engaged with TV or its other forms. This should be seen as an opportunity to educate, not exploit.
As one of the largest influences in children’s lives, mainstream media has the opportunity to be at the forefront in the fight against childhood obesity.
People often forget that it’s our generation and our children’s generation that will face the lifelong consequences of childhood obesity. By being proactive, we have the potential to limit life-threatening illnesses and life-long hardship through positive messages and healthy habits.
According to Adweek, an online media outlet, children spend an average of 32 hours a week in front of a TV, and 71 percent of children between the ages of eight and 18 also have a television in their bedroom.
A large portion of the media children consume comes in the form of advertisements. Kids between the ages of two and 11 see an average of 25,600 advertisements a year and approximately half of all food ads are for fast food, candy and cereal.
Not only do children spend a great deal of time in front of a screen, but the content they’re exposed to suggests the media plays an important role in childhood development.
It makes sense that television and advertisements aimed at kids should be taking a more active role to encourage healthy lifestyles.
British celebrity chef and restauranteur Jamie Oliver began Jamie’s Food Revolution to tackle the rising issue of childhood obesity, and it all began as a TV show where Oliver visited American cities and helped them try to lead healthier lives.
The campaign aims to “provoke debate and inspire real, meaningful, positive change in the way our children access, consume and understand food,” according to the campaign’s site.
It’s not the only one. Healthy cooking campaigns such Uncle Ben’s ‘Child Chefs’ and The Kids Cook Monday aim to inspire young children to make healthy meal choices at an early age and maintain them as they grow older.
Initiatives like this that use the media to educate kids at a young age about the importance of cooking and treating your body right should be much more commonplace.
Although kids may not realize the importance of knowing how to prepare healthy meals, that skill will remain with them if developed early.
In order to end the issue of childhood obesity, we must first take the time to understand what will work.
With the digital world being a constant presence in children’s lives, it should be the primary force working against the issue.
Valentino is The Journal’s Digital Manager. He’s a third-year Computer Science student.
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