The Physical Impact of Digital Technology on Children

In our last article, we covered how children’s use of digital technology impacts their mental/cognitive health. While one dimension is the impact on mental/cognitive, the other dimension is physical impact which is extremely crucial to consider.

Children must be physically active for the purpose of exploring the environment and building their bodies through physical play. As older children engage in more digital activities, they spend less time playing outdoors, reading, engaging in hobbies, or using their imagination with free play. This could promote a sedentary lifestyle which may contribute to being overweight and obese leading to the risk of developing Type II diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart diseases as well as other severe diseases.

The Physical Impact of Digital Technology on Children

Excessive screen time may lead to long-term vision problems such as myopia (nearsightedness) for instance. The blue light from digital devices is not blinding, contrary to the many alarming headlines. However, it can cause dry eyes and may make it harder to fall asleep resulting in lack of sleep and insufficient rest. Children who sleep near a “small screen” get an average of 20.6 fewer minutes of sleep every night possibly due to depletion in the hormone melatonin (linked to circadian rhythm) as a result of high levels of blue light emission. Additionally, a significant association has been found between playing video games in the evening and sleep deprivation among teenagers, where a 30-minute increase in time spent on computer games increases the likelihood of reporting lack of sleep by 50% compared to the average.

It is the parent’s role to continually find ways to encourage physical activity within the household.

The Physical Impact of Digital Technology on Children.

Stay tuned for more about how digital use impacts children and what you can do to help throughout the rest of this week.

Sources:

Bavelier, Daphne, et al. “Children, Wired: For Better and for Worse.” Neuron, vol. 67, no. 5, 2010, pp. 692–701., doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2010.08.035.

Okeeffe, G. S., and K. Clarke-Pearson. “The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families.” Pediatrics, vol. 127, no. 4, 2011, pp. 800–804., doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0054.

Vandewater, E. A., et al. “Digital Childhood: Electronic Media and Technology Use Among Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers.” Pediatrics, vol. 119, no. 5, 2007, doi:10.1542/peds.2006-1804.

“The Impact of New Digital Media on Children’s and Young Adult Literature.” Digital Literature for Children, doi:10.3726/978-3-0352-6577-4/14.

Chassiakos, Yolanda (Linda) Reid, et al. “Children and Adolescents and Digital Media.” Pediatrics, vol. 138, no. 5, 2016, doi:10.1542/peds.2016-2593.

Smahel, David, et al. “The Impact of Digital Media on Health: Children’s Perspectives.” International Journal of Public Health, vol. 60, no. 2, 2015, pp. 131–137., doi:10.1007/s00038-015-0649-z.

“Screen Time and Young Children: Promoting Health and Development in a Digital World.” Paediatrics & Child Health, vol. 23, no. 1, 2018, pp. 83–83., doi:10.1093/pch/pxx197.

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