Social Health At Risk: Leave The iPad In Your Bag And Your Phone In Your Pocket!

Last week I was on vacation with my family.  It was a short vacation of just a few days in the Carribean.  I had no Internet, no phone,… nothing but warm (hot!) weather, beautiful scenery, my family, and a good book (“Drop Dead Healthy” by A.J. Jacobs, compliments of Fitness Magazine).  One morning while we were eating our breakfast, both my husband and I noticed as we looked around the room, many young children were watching movies on their parents’ iPads.  Now I realize that dining out can be tricky with young ones, and I too have handed over an iPod over a long dinner, but this was breakfast, a BUFFET breakfast.  There was no long wait for food, at all, and it was the start of the day.  I don’t say this to sound judgmental, but come on people!  Do you really need to hyper-entertain your children so much that you can’t allow them to get through a 15 minute meal with their family?

As I looked around the room it made me think of many things, like the times I have tried to talk to my husband about something important and his face is planted in his phone, or his iPad, or his computer.  And when I say, “hey, I’m talking to you” his reply is “I’m listening, I can multi-task.”   When did we become a society of people that walk, talk, drive, and eat with their faces planted in screens?  Why don’t parents talk with their kids rather than just keeping them quiet?  Why don’t friends sit at lunch and look at each other, rather than texting each other from 12 inches away?  Am I the only one disturbed by this?

If you ask me, one of my favorite things to do is get together with my friends, face-to-face.  I love to talk with them, listen to them, and build relationships with the people in my life.  Not only do I like it, but it’s healthy for me.  It’s healthy for all of us.  We spend so much time focusing on our physical health, what to eat, how to exercise, but we spend little time paying attention to the other pieces of our health like mental and social health.

Social health is important, just as important as our physical health.  Why?  Because stress effects our physical health.  It makes us store fat, develop diseases, and die early,  Period.  And social health reduces stress.  By improving our social health, we improve our physical health.

So for a change, take a moment to not think about weight loss, salads, or going to the gym.  Think about taking your mobile device and leaving it in your pocket or purse, meet with some friends face-to-face or have a family meal together, and enjoy a truly healthy experience.

About Kimberly Dawson, M.S.

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