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!


Create a free website or blog at