Get Your Blog in Shape

March 1, 2009

Has ‘On Screen Activity’ replaced ‘Physical Activity?’

Filed under: Physical Education — pekina @ 10:08 am

img_09371After much time spent today watching “how to blog” tutorials and way too much time spent scanning various websites including podcasts, facebook, blogs and wikis I am ready to finally pull out my soap box blog, climb up on top and broadcast myself! I am still feeling overwhelmed and suffering from a massive dose of information overload. Blogging is not something I am really comfortable with (assuming I ever figure it out!) and I am probably more suited to be a wiki person than a blogger. I have been on the computer for 5 hours today and only just starting to feel productive. Although reading and searching for relevant sites is certainly considered productive it is not until I put pen to paper (well that’s becoming obsolete) rephrase that – not until I hit the  the keyboard does it feel like I have made a start. So here we go………my field is physical education so I initially set myself the task to see how technology has impacted physical education. I found videos and websites dedicated to motivating people to become more active (one hour a day minimum) ( I would have put a link here but after half an hour of unsuccessfully trying to link I am giving up – obviously all the time I spent learning to blog was not that successful)  The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention identified 12.5 million Americans as obese in 2004. The number of obese children has tripled since 1984. Senator Tom Harkin in a press conference in Washington DC to release a program called PLAY Everyday” (unbelievable that we have to ask children to play!) was quoted as saying

Expert’s say that there is a very real prospect that today’s younger generation will be the first generation in American history to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

(Just unsuccessfully tried to use the quotation marks….this is frustrating) So this may be not surprising to some – it’s America right. Well, a search into literature emanating from Australia tells me that my home country Australia now leads the obesity stakes per capita. (another link needed here when I figure it out) This is from a nation who was previously stereotyped as leading a healthy outdoors lifestyle. Why is our nation’s heath so poor? Is it because  ‘on screen’ activity replaced ‘physical’ activity? Is being a kid no longer synonymous with being active? A look into the various videos and podcasts being made by health experts and PE students are primarily about motivating children to turn off computers and get active. Maybe these kids should spend less time making podcasts and videos about being active and actually be active! Would that be a better role model? Physical Education has undergone a paradigm shift in terms of curriculum and appropriate practice. It is not appropriate (never was!) to cater primarily for the naturally athletic child, it is all about catering for every BODY. We have come out of the draconian ways of PE past where teams were often picked by captains, children that were not naturally athletic often felt humiliated as they would be picked last, and were also frequently eliminated from games first (although were the ones who needed the most practice!) and exercise was used a punishment (drop and give me ten!) Think Mr Woodcock for those who are familiar with the movie. Games like Duck Duck Goose where all but two children were inactive for most of the game are gone from today’s PE curriculums.

When it comes to physical activity for elementary children, the only word we should associate with young children and exercise is fun, and lots of it. After all we are now competing with Nintendo and other media giants for their time.  

When I first started teaching we had to occasionally justify the inclusion of Physical Education into the curriculum. I was often asked why consider exercise for young children at all? Don’t children naturally get all the exercise they need just by being children? After all, how often do the words “Why can’t they just sit still?” or “These kids are bouncing off the walls!” come to mind? Certainly, it seems as if young children were active enough. Not today! Recent studies (another link needed here- you will just have to believe me) cite the fact that children 2-10 years old spend an average of 25 plus hours a week watching television as evidence ‘being a kid’ isn’t what it used to be. And that statistic doesn’t include any time spent playing video games or on computers. For some children the only activity is “on screen activity.” The American Heart Association recommends one hour of physical activity per day. Sadly this seems to be difficult for many children to achieve. Of course it is not just the inactivity that is destroying the health of our children – it is as much about the food we eat and other lifestyle factors. What limits do we place on “on screen’ activity? How do we help ourselves and the next generation maintain the balance? Is ‘on screen’ activity now synonymous with being a kid? Has ‘on screen activity replaced ‘physical activity’ that we associated with childhood a generation ago?  I am logging off to go for a bike ride with two children – if only I can convince them to turn off the cell phone, TV, Nintendo. Wii, and laptop!

Okay I am coming back to this tomorrow to add media files (but need to figure out that one as well)…..unbelievable how much time this takes for someone new to blogging. Anyway I am off to work on my bod rather than my blog!



  1. Great post Amanda!

    I can definitely relate to this on a personal level, and as a parent. My daughter is naturally active and not (yet) overly drawn towards the computer. Santa brought her a nintendo for Christmas, but she only really uses it on long car or plane journeys. My son, on the other hand, only 3-yrs of age and would happily spend all day in front of a computer screen if allowed. I have found an egg timer set to 15 mins works well as a signal that time’s up – at least for the moment. It’s not that he doesn’t enjoy being active, it’s just that he also enjoys using certain websites, even if they are educational. Again, it comes back to balance.

    And me – well – I am guilty too. How often have I sat down in front of a computer and faffed around instead of getting on the treadmill or going for a walk? And this blogging isn’t helping!


    Comment by dickinsonn — March 2, 2009 @ 7:09 am

  2. I like you opinions Amanda, where are our priorities? What’s the use of being able to blog, podcast etc if you work up into a sweat just to get to the computer? I guess at least people will have the knowledge on where to find cardiac surgeons. And I agree with Nadine, it’s about balance.

    Comment by contej — March 2, 2009 @ 9:44 am

  3. I like your soup box. Keep climbing up on it, because this is a serious problem.

    I think kids nowadays are pretty tired by the time they get home. After a day at school, hours at Kumon and instrument practice there isn’t much room left in the day (or fuel in the tank) for a bit of exercise. We aren’t letting children have a childhood. A lot of time is spent getting them ready for the next step, which in turn neglects where they are at this moment. There is also a bit of overprotecting going on. ‘If you climb that tree you might get hurt!’. ‘If you ride that bike you might fall down.’That would turn me off exercise if I had to hear that all the time.

    You are in the perfect position to preach to parents. Do it, loud and often.


    Comment by G. Steve McCallum — March 2, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

  4. Great preaching, Amanda! I must admit that I’m in the “Nadine” category of not enough treadmill effort. By the way, in case you haven’t figured out the secret to linking, highlight the word you want to link, then go up to the tool bar and click on the little chain links that are attached to one another. A window of sorts will pop up, making the rest of your screen gray. You’ll also have to bring up the website you are linking to, copy the URL in the address bar and paste it into the window that pops up when you press the link button in the toolbar. Does that make any sense or is it about as clear as mud?

    Comment by hamaguchik — March 2, 2009 @ 11:00 pm

  5. I agree with you as well Amanda. In fact, during Alan November’s PD day I was secretly hoping that you would take him on when he was basically telling us to get with the program. There certainly needs to be more of a balance. Not only is physical activity suffering, but kids engaging with the natural world as well. My fondest memories from being a child were spent in the woods making a fort feeling like I was in another world. That connection with our environment also needs to be maintained in our tech driven world. Thanks for the post!

    Comment by pelkeymatt — March 4, 2009 @ 6:48 pm

  6. …teams were often picked by captains, children that were not naturally athletic often felt humiliated as they would be picked last, and were also frequently eliminated from games first

    Aaargh, I remember that! Geez it sucked being a late bloomer in MS, especially since our PE teacher would have us play Volleyball almost every single lesson where we didn’t do some sort of assessment (12 minute run, etc.) and I couldn’t even reach the top of the net!

    (… almost hyperventilating at the memory…)

    Anyways, I have more blog posts to (re-)read…

    Comment by Ståle — April 27, 2009 @ 2:32 pm

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