PCs, laptops, iPads, mobile phones, games consoles, and TV – many of us are spending our lives flicking from one screen to another, using social networking sites, sending emails, watching TV, working, texting friends, and even reading books.
A survey by Childwise* found that on average 90 per cent of children use the Internet for two hours a day, five days a week usually in their own room – on laptops, games consoles or mobile phones. They go on social networking sites even though two million of them are below the permitted age of 13, and parents have little control over what they are looking at.
As for TV, 63 per cent have a television in their bedroom and in total they spend four and a half hours on TV or computer screens every day (as reported by the Daily Mail). By comparison they only do an average of two hours’ sporting activities every week. So why is this a problem?
There may be plenty of social problems but as for health problems, it’s obvious that we don’t know all the answers yet as the younger generation are breaking new ground.
Health issues from screen gazing:
Eyesight problems (see Strategies for saving eyesight at the computer) – whether or not there is scientific evidence many people reckon that their eyesight deteriorated after they started spending more time in front of a computer.
Back pain There’s no doubt that our bodies weren’t designed for sitting at computers all day, especially slouching over them. It’s bad enough sitting at a desk, but when you’ve got a laptop and you sit on the floor or the bed as many young people do, you are likely to build up back and neck problems. See Back Pain.
Electro-magnetic radiation Most natural therapists believe that the amount of electro-magnetic fields that surround us are sapping our energy and building up future problems for our health. How many people go to bed with the mobile phone by them as their alarm clock? How many electronic devices are still on standby or switched on as we sleep? See Sleeping Soundly.
Obesity It goes without saying that if kids are spending more time in front of a screen than exercising they are likely to put on weight. Schools encourage the use of computers with homework often being done through the Internet, and to provide key skills for the workplace.
Mental health Getting out and about and playing team games, and breathing in fresh air has to be better than spending lots of time in your bedroom on the computer. Addiction to computer games and social networking sites can become serious, with less and less time spent interacting with real people.
For further information: Childwise, www.childwise.co.uk