Improving Health and Wellness in Students: Operation Pause the PlayStation!
Rising consumerism is a problem that has a profound effect on children today. Children and adults watch television and are inundated with commercials that urge viewers to buy the latest technological gadgets that replace outdoor activities and exercise. As well, the latest candy, ice cream, and other unhealthy products are cast in between cartoons that capture children’s attentions and their parents are pressured to please their children and buy them material objects to satisfy them rather than engaging them in healthy activities much of the time.
Many parents are working and have little time to spend with their kids, sitting in front of the television together or encouraging kids to quietly play with their gadgets (play stations, computers, and others), so parents can relax may become the norm. To make up for this lack of involvement many parents guiltily give in to children’s whims and buy them candy and unhealthy food, to save time “fast-food” replaces a healthy dinner.An efficient school program would not only target the youth, but their parents, as well then. “Operation Pause the PlayStation” will be aimed at educating parents and children separately on issues involving obesity and unhealthy dietary behaviors. It is probable that parents of children, who are not obese, will be less receptive and unlikely to come to these after-school classes. Therefore this program will have the contingency that children will not be able to pass to the next grade level unless parents attend (this is fitting as the program should be implemented at the end of the school year before children have summer break and may be more sedentary and involved in unhealthy activities without the benefit of healthy school lunches and physical education.
Therefore, parents and children should attend at least three classes that tackle these problems. Class one should tackle the “McDonaldization of Society” and demonstrate that busy working families do not mean to do their children harm when settling for fast food, but that fast food is unhealthy and can lead to obesity and/or unhealthy learned behaviors that will follow children into adulthood. “Giving in” to children and buying them unhealthy food to fill the void that is left from lack of quality time, should also be addressed. This class will be a sort of forum, as well, not meant to single out any parent, but an opportunity for parents facing the same kinds of strain to network with one another and see that they can be part of a healthy solution.Class two should encompass the overuse of technical gadgets (including television) that interfere with healthy activity.
Teachers of these classes that can be taken from high school level health classes and may choose films or other forms of media that deal with these issues to show that, in a sense, these parents and their families are “victims” of consumerism.Outside of class, more and more children are watching more and more TV, to the point that they are watching approximately 40,000 TV commercials annually. (The CEO of Prism Communication notes, “They aren’t children as much as what I like to call ‘evolving consumers'” (Heiner, 2006).Deconstructing these facts that lead to sedentary and possibly unhealthy behaviors in children from a larger, systemic base will, also, help parents to realize that they are not being singled out, but instead part of a consumer culture that demands this type of behavior.While the parents are involved in the first two classes, high school level physical education and health teachers should teach the children about food pyramid and what different foods do to help the body grow and be strong. They should, also, focus on different exercise techniques that are fun and help to keep children in shape.
The two courses should help children to begin to think beyond McDonald’s and PlayStation and the children will take what they learn and teach their parents.This is what class three should be revolving around, a fun and light-hearted end to the requirement. Here students will tech their parents what they have learned as far as healthy eating and healthy exercise. The parents will, most likely, appreciate that their children are making an effort to improve their lifestyles and will continue where the classes left off. Additionally, there should be representatives from various summer camps and programs that are inexpensive , so that even children in poverty could attend. The YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and other organizations should promote what they have to offer at this time and, hopefully the summer will serve as a break from studies, but a beginning to more healthy behavior.
In conclusion, problems with obesity and unhealthy behavior are systemic. We live in a consumer culture that causes both the old and young to sometimes believe that having “things” is essential. Hurried lifestyles, as well, from long work hours, and especially in single-parent households may lead to turning to “fast food”. Competing with friends to have the most up-to-date technology may lead to parents having pressure put on them to provide these unnecessary gadgets and relaxing may start to take the form of television watching or other technological time. These problems are not unique to any one group, but all parents and all children are at risk.
“Operation Pause the Playstation”, should help change attitudes on this.;