Headaches: Another Reason To Limit Kids’ TV Time

Ever wonder if your children spend too much time staring at computer and television screens? How exactly do you define “too much time”? Two hours per day? Three hours? Six? Recent research suggests that spending an excessive amount of time on screen-based activities actually can physically hurt our children. Specifically, if your child is complaining of backaches or headaches, it may be time to shut off the television.

In the study, the researchers analyzed data from a survey conducted by the World Health Organization. As part of the survey, over 30,000 11-, 13-, and 15-year-olds answered a variety of questions about their health and lifestyle. The researchers focused on the youths’ reports about how much time they spend watching television, using computers, and playing video games. The scientists then looked at the teens’ answers regarding the frequency with which they experience headaches and backaches.

The results show a consistent association between time spent on screen-based activities and incidences of headache and backache among the youths. Correlation does not prove causation, however, so the researchers had to take a closer look to determine if the screen-time was, in fact, the cause of the physical symptoms. To determine causation, the scientists controlled for three other factors that could conceivably have influenced the children’s headaches and backaches – including physical activity, symptoms of depression and high levels of stress.

Even after adjusting the sample to control for these factors, the study again proved that children who spent more time on screen-based activities experienced more headaches and backaches. This link left the researchers confident that they identified a causal relationship between screen-based activities and these physical symptoms.

The time children spend on screen-based activities will probably continue to increase as world economies become more dependent on Internet-based communication systems.The near-constant muscle tension during screen-based activities that probably causes the headaches and backaches may lead to chronic health problems in the future.

Research into ergonomic solutions for physical problems caused by these activities will likely become increasingly important as well. In the meantime, pay attention to the frequency your child complains of headaches and backaches. If they have unexplained physical pain, it may be time to send them outside to play. Try removing computers and television sets from your kids bedrooms. It will help you monitor the time they spend in front of the screen.

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1 Comment

  • The secret for us was weening our kids off tv and computer, and getting them interested in reading. We use audiobooks as a good first step.  They’re way more engaging to the imagination.  There’s lots of sites to download them, but we use one site in particular because the stories are all original and free. Here’s the link, if anyone is interested. http://www.twirlygirlshop.com/moral-stories-for-kids

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