Screen Time Contributing to Childhood Obesity
TV, Tablet, Phone No Substitute for Parenting, Says Child Doctor
Next time you are tempted to give your child extra time in front of a screen, don’t.
“TVs, tablets, and smart phones are no substitute for parenting, they are only tools,” says Lashan McKenzie, M.D. “A tablet never raised a child.”
Dr. McKenzie is a pediatrician who spent seven years in the public health system before joining The Wellness Clinic on Collins Avenue, a team of wellness medical and lifestyle professionals headed by Arlington Lightbourne, M.D.
“It was the time I spent in clinics throughout Nassau that opened my eyes to the problem of pediatric obesity, and the major issues confronting us because of an increasingly inactive and underactive population,” said Dr. McKenzie, DM, who took up her post in the private sector last month.
Her passion about getting even the youngest child engaged, outside and off electronics is matched only by the reality she has seen and treated when physical activity is superseded by sedentary.
“I watched an 8-month-old get on Youtube,” she said. “The parents thought their child was a genius. He pressed the button, Mom put on the ‘kiddie’ show he was watching before, he repeated the action. It was rote memory and yes, it was cute, but it was not healthy learning or development. All it was doing was conditioning his brain to achieve the reward of praise by pushing a button,” says Dr. McKenzie, who fears what the future holds for a generation of electronically addicted children.
“I know that parents mean well and they are proud when their son or daughter shows ability on electronics that many people far older than they would struggle with, but I just want to make those caring parents aware that there is a price that comes with too much screen time,” said Dr. McKenzie.
One of her greatest worries is that connected with the misuse and overuse of electronics is casual, almost absent-minded eating.
“Kids graze all day,” she notes. Her recommendation – try to have at least one structured family meal a day without any screen time. “Parents have the responsibility of being media mentors for their children. It takes some level of commitment, but parents are the best teachers. Make reading fun from infancy, encourage children to imagine, play board games, solve puzzles, listen to music, play an instrument, join a team, and do activities outside.”
At The Wellness Clinic located south of Doctors Hospital, Dr. McKenzie said she has the support of a full team dedicated to healthy lifestyle. Among the team are nutritionist and lifestyle coach Justice Brown, a strong support staff, a healthy cleaning service using all nature-based products and at the helm, Dr. Lightbourne who also turned to wellness after years of witnessing and treating the results of poor lifestyle choices ending in too many crises cases in the emergency room.
“Wellness is not a place, it is a journey,” said Dr. Lightbourne, “and we are delighted that Dr. McKenzie who is eminently qualified to serve in the capacity of pediatric wellness specialist is joining the journey, especially as it relates to childhood obesity. The goal is to try to save the next generation of Bahamians. We know that goal is ambitious, but we also believe it is necessary. Wellness is not a luxury. We are talking about survival.”