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New Paper: Frequent device use linked to harm

A new paper published in the New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy provided a broad overview of the impacts of digital technologies on the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents. While useful for health professionals, the relevance of the information to educators and parents is highlighted.


The paper looked at eight different areas of health - including vision, hearing, physical impacts, sleep, mental health, obesity and social impacts. The strength of evidence was evaluated, and key recommendations to reduce the risk of harm in each area (if indicated) were included.


Recommendations include advice on eye breaks, safer use of headphones/earbuds, ergonomics and lighting, and screen time limits or a balance screen and non-screen learning tasks (depending on the age of the young person), among others.


Definitions of excessive screen use linked to harm were discussed, and the majority of negative impacts were found with total daily screen use of between 2 and 6 hours.


A ten-minute interview with the lead author is available on Radio New Zealand (RNZ).


"While digital technologies can certainly offer opportunities for learning, and other benefits as well, frequent and extended device use is associated with a risk of harm to child and adolescent health and also in numerous areas of health," Cullen said. "Time spent using digital technologies affected some areas of health, and that was regardless of content (what kids are doing online)." This included eye health, like myopia and dry eye disease, and noise-induced hearing loss linked to volume and length of time.


Whether kids were doing school work or playing games, didn't seem to matter. But when it came to mental health, wellbeing and cognition, it may. "On the flip side, there were other areas of health where while time spent on screens is still important, it may be more important what kids are doing online, the content and quality of what they're doing and other factors like their age."


Go to www.sensiblescreenuse.org for more information, or share through your social media channels if you found this useful.







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