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Mental Obesity June 6, 2007

Posted by edukfun in add, add parents, adhd, alternative treatment, art, aspergers, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, brain drain, camp, children, cognitive decline, concentration, education, exercise, fitness, health, ld, learning disability, memory, obesity, parenting, parents, school, social skills, sports, summer, underachieve, video games.
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Think of your brain like your body.  What do you feed it each day?  A brain diet high in video games and low in cognitive demands will lead to mental obesity!

The NY Times is reporting that new web sites aimed at children, especially girls, are on the rise. These sites allow kids to chat, Instant Message, Accessorize their cartoon avatars, dress up dolls and play video games.  Sounds like fun, so what’s the problem?

The problem is that your brain is like a muscle–use it or lose it.  Spending an hour or two playing high stimulus, low cognition games (or watching equivalent TV programs, or reading equivalent comic books) is fine IF IT IS PART OF A WELL-BALANCED BRAIN DIET.

What makes a well-balanced brain diet?

Introducing the Brain-Food Pyramid:

  • 1-2 Hours of High-Stimulus, Low-Cognition activities: video games, TV, passive music, chatting with friends, internet surfing.
  • 1-2 Hours of  High-Cognition Activities: reading above grade level, write an essay, playing a musical instrument, peak-performance athletics, planning a big project.
  • 1-2 Hours of Physical Activity: walking, jogging, swimming, unstructured playing, sports, bicycling, etc.
  • 1-2 Hours of Socializing: hanging out with friends and family.
  • 7-10 hours of sleep!

“Kids these days” are packing on 4-14 hours PER DAY of high stimulus activities that require next to zero thinking.  They’re ignoring the other aspects of life, sacrificing social skills and physical health (including sleep) in order to get their next “fix” of almost-free brain stimulus.

Your brain needs exercise every day in order to stay in shape.  Don’t let Barbie take that away!

Good luck,

Allen Dobkin

Does Soccer Cause Brain Damage? May 15, 2007

Posted by edukfun in brain injury, children, education, exercise, general, parenting, school, sports.
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Parents may rightly worry that soccer, a sport which requires players to head the ball, may cause or contribute to brain damage. There was at least one TV courtroom drama with an episode based on the idea that soccer is inherently brain damaging.

Parents can breathe a sigh of relief.

A new study that examined the effects of boxing and soccer on brain damage conclude that soccer is safe. Of course a single study doesn’t solidly prove anything, so parents must still use their own careful judgement. Heading in soccer may not cause brain damage, but there are other risks of injury to consider. Generally, though, players won’t be in any more danger than playing some other competitive contact sport.

Boxing, both professional and amateur, is not so lucky. The study found an increase in brain chemicals tied to damage in fighters. So while your child may be safe on the field, he may still get brain damage in the stands when the fan riot breaks out.

Click here for the article.

Good luck!

Allen Dobkin