I was speaking with a frustrated parent today. He was telling my about his child, who he adores, and how she is always in front of her phone screen. He shared a story about taking her phone from her while they were out to dinner and it buzzing constantly in his pocket the entire time. She was sure her friends would hate her for not being instantly available.

Screen timeKids are dropped in front of a screen to pacify their tantrums, much like the infant in this picture who can’t even express herself in words.

This generation will spend more time “connected” online. They will sit passively as their school, homework and play move to the screen. They will interact primarily with a screen without ever developing the skills of face to face, real world communication.

All while vast amounts of evidence comes out about the harm caused by a sedentary lifestyle. “Sitting is the new smoking”: It is catastrophic in its effect on our metabolism, muscle and bone strength, physical coordination and more.

Children, instead of running, playing, climbing, and generally causing a ruckus will be passive. Instead of growing strong and vital, they begin a health decline before their first decade is done.

Parents, the burden is on us. We can’t expect our kids to manage the overload of being constantly online when we can barely manage it ourselves. We must be active and engaged in keeping them active and engaged. Since physical activity and interaction don’t just happen anymore we need to create these opportunities and habits for them.

Martial Arts are a wonderful solution that offers physical, mental and social stimulation in a positive environment. Learning the discipline at a young age is invaluable. It instills a self respect and confidence that will carry them powerfully through the innumerable challenges life will throw their way.

Beyond that, remember that their most powerful influence is you. Put away your screen around your kids. Go on walks, hikes, climb and swim. Enjoy your time with them. That time is the most valuable thing you will ever have.