Are Video Games Making Your Child Fat?

If you are a parent, you have likely heard the warnings put out by the news media and the medical community: Childhood obesity is on the rise. This is the first generation of children who will have shorter life spans than their parents. Children are now suffering from obesity-related conditions like adult-onset diabetes and heart disease.

This is an area of concern, especially for those of us who struggle with weight problems or other health conditions. We want our children to live long, healthy and happy lives.

So many parents do what comes naturally. We start pointing fingers.

“My child is overweight because the food manufacturers put addictive ingredients in their food.”

“My child has a high BMI because convenience stores sell soft drinks by the quart.”

“My child eats too much because of marketing ploys by large food companies.”

“My child is inactive because of video games.”

“My child has gained too much weight because they cut physical education classes in schools.”

While all of these may have an impact, there is one main ingredient missing from these claims: Personal responsibility. It is much easier to place the blame on others than to take a good long look at what is under our own control. It is less difficult to play the victim than to gain victory over challenges on our own.

The truth? Barring a medical condition, our children are overweight because they are not consuming proper nutrition and/or they are inactive. End of story.

Yes, many food manufacturers are not are friends when we try to offer good nutrition to our children. But who purchases these foods?

obese monkey on a sign

True, no one would say a quart of Dr. Pepper is healthy for a child (or an adult for that matter). But no convenience stores in my area are passing them out for free.

Yes, businesses are skilled in knowing how to awake our cravings by carefully placed ads and commercials. But how are these marketing campaigns becoming available to our child? Who is paying the cable bill and subscribing to magazines?

Hungry?

And speaking of commercials, if our children are sitting in front of the television or video games most of the day, who is really responsible? The inactivity is the contributing factor which means that your child could just as well be inactive reading Shakespeare or building with Legos. Shall we ban books and building blocks? (Note: There are other valid reasons to ban television and many video games, but their contribution to obesity is the issue at hand.)

And do you really expect your child to get the main portion of his physical activity at school? Isn’t that a little like sending him to McDonald’s for a sit-down steak dinner?

Young children in school

The point of school is to educate your child which is typically done in a classroom setting with the students seated at desks. The small portion of physical education schools may offer is helpful and educational, but it is an extra and secondary to the main purpose of educating our children in the “three Rs”. And you all know how I feel about leaving the responsibility of parenting your children exclusively to churches, schools and other organizations.

I challenge you and I challenge myself. Let’s put the responsibility of caring for our children’s health squarely on our own shoulders. Purchase nutritious foods and leave junk foods on the shelf. Get out and play actively with them. Serve balanced, delicious meals. Have them do chores and play outside before sitting down to play video games or read books. Limit exposure to media that teaches a wrong world view. Pull out God’s Word and show them His plan for caring for our bodies and controlling our fleshly impulses.

Child playing at Wien (St.Stephen's Square)

Because our children’s lives depend on it. Because the video game companies and food manufacturers will not be paying their hospital bills any more than they paid for their consumption of junk. It’s up to us. Go make it happen, Mama!