Do depressed kids need an action plan?

Kids who don't lead active lives and prefer sedentary screen-time instead could be more prone to depression. That's what one study in Australia has revealed. The evidence supports ongoing research into changing lifestyles of youngsters, from young children to adolescents, and the impact this has on their health. It is a warning bell for many parents who care not just about the physical health of their young ones but their mental health as well.

The link between physical activity, screen time and depressive symptoms is one that many parents are eager to understand. With kids slumping down in front of the television, or in front of computers and handheld gadgets, the pace at which technology is advancing into leisure time can be frightening for any parent. Hauling a stubborn teen away from chatting to friends online to doing active things with them in the flesh is no mean feat. Aside from obesity issues in kids is inactivity also affecting their minds too?

33% feeling depressed!

The University of Deakin lead study, along with experts in pediatrics, nutrition and psychology  received questionnaire results from over 8000 students between the ages of 10-16. The questions were concerned with the moods and feelings of the youngsters. Moderate to high depressive symptoms were reported in 33% of participating youngsters.

Action reduces the symptoms!

Being active in sports and physical activities at school or outside of school lowered the chances of the young people reporting symptoms of depression. The percentage also decreased independently, in relation to less leisure screen-time too. Although the study did not investigate what the causal effects were this type of evidence is enough for many parents to take action against their offspring's inaction.

Balanced action plan!

Some adults like the idea that kids should be kids and this means letting them do what they want. All the developing technology is exciting, so why not let them take advantage of this? If the same screen-time options were available years ago, wouldn't lots of kids have abandoned shooting some hoops in favor of digital wizardry? Other parents are forever talking about when they were young without realizing that they might need to accept and acknowledge that times have changed. It's about balance and striking the right one!

Inactive kids = depressed adults?

There's also evidence that youngsters might be more prone to depression when they are adults if they don't workout when they are young too. It's not just problem teens that is the issue but the type of grown-ups children become too. Another University of Deakin study revealed that kids who did less activity were 35% more likely to develop depression as an adult, compared to their active counterparts. The study also suggested that this was regardless of adult activity levels. It could be that young people who let exercise slide could have to combat mental health issues in the future as a result.

Causal links

Does screen-time lead to youngsters spending less time interacting in a face-to-face social situation? Or is it that more screen-time means that you are spending less time being active? Does lazing around encourage youngsters to up the amount of time they spend doing nothing but staring at a screen? While the dots are not all joined up there is a strong argument for parents to think about the mental wellbeing of their child when encouraging activities, as well as their general health.

Kickstart a positive attitude to a child's welfare and find an activity they enjoy and can engage with. We could have the answer that helps!

Published with permission from FitnessAdvisory. Source.

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