Children Eating While Playing Gadgets? Understand the impact on health
Presenting a show on a device while feeding a toddler is a new habit for many parents nowadays because it can make the toddler quiet and seem to enjoy their food. But it turns out that this convenience will be disastrous for parents. Watching gadgets with toddlers aged 1–5 years is associated with unhealthy eating habits. According to research by Pearson et al. in 2018, toddlers who eat while watching gadgets show low consumption of fruits and vegetables and an increased intake of unhealthy foods such as snacks, biscuits, and chocolate because toddlers find it easier to eat these foods while watching gadgets, and it turns out that all of them are high in sugar, salt, and fat. In this study, it was also stated that parents are a strong example for toddlers to adopt their eating style.
Food eaten while watching gadgets will not be realised by toddlers, so they will continue to feel full. Indirectly, this habit will make toddlers obese. In addition, this beloved toddler will emulate the eating style of his parents. If parents are frequently seen with their children eating while holding a device, the toddler will follow suit.
Is the impact of eating while watching a device only in the form of excess weight gain or obesity?
In fact, from the research of Jusiene et al. in 2019, it was explained that children less than 5 years of age who have a habit of eating while watching gadgets have broad negative impacts. Among them are delays in the development of speech, having low social skills, not being able to control or express emotions, and declining academic abilities in the future. The use of devices will also hinder sensory development. Therefore, parents should provide opportunities for their toddlers to have more physical activities, such as taking them for walks or playing at home or outside the home. This will make toddlers feel hungry quickly. A hungry toddler will most likely eat voraciously without the help of a gadget. When toddlers are not hungry, they will consume more watching devices. The role of parents in this case is very important. Parents must be able to provide positive activities for toddlers by inviting them to play and providing age-appropriate foods that are easy to digest. And don't forget, toddlers will be "mirrors" of their parents, so be parents who can set a role model for their children by not eating while holding a device.
So what can parents do?
1. Do what you teach toddlers. Don't just make toddlers not watch gadgets while eating while their parents don't set the right example. Implement house rules so that no one is holding a device while eating.
2. Apply the rule of no gadgets or television while eating. Don't turn on the television while eating, and don't put your device on the dinner table. Toddlers can be included in their role as a reminder for all family members to agree with this rule. This will make toddlers happy because they are involved in discipline when eating.
3. When eating, give full attention to toddlers. Try to avoid having any conversations that don't involve your toddler.
4. Make the feeding session a fun thing. by having family discussions about their daily experiences, talking about some fun topics, so that gadgets are not required during the meal session
5. Make a fixed eating schedule. Give toddlers a schedule for eating three large meals a day and two snack foods in between. A fixed eating schedule will create a good habit in the future.
6. Make sure the toddler is hungry. Hunger conditions will make toddlers focus on eating. Keep snack foods away during large meal sessions.
7. Cook foods that toddlers like. Even so, the cuisine must remain varied.
8. Make toddlers enjoy every food served. This can be attempted by inviting toddlers to shopping places and also involving toddlers when cooking so that toddlers can respect the food that has been served more.
9. Do not put pressure on toddlers. Don't force toddlers to finish their food. Make sure the maximum duration of each large eating session is 30 minutes. Let his own body determine whether he is full or not.
Always take care of your child's health and provide real education as parents, such as showing them how to eat and not hold gadgets.
Created by Dr. Irfan Abdurraafi, MARS
Reviewed by Dr. Erman, Sp.A
N. Pearson et al. (2018) Clustering and correlations of screen time and eating behaviours among young children Pearson et al., BMC Public Health (2018) 18:753. Jusiene, R., et al. 2019. Screen Use During Meals Among Young Children: Exploration of Associated Variables Medicina (Kaunas), October 2019; 55(10): 688.