Teenagers and smartphones, excessive use is bad for health: the advice of the pediatrician

Smartphones are bad for our children’s health, whether it is a smartphone, tablet or personal computer, it doesn’t matter: from an early age they are able to interact with electronic devices and focus their attention on the screen as they are unlikely to do for other activities. The confirmations come from an international WHO research to monitor the health and well-being of adolescents aged 11, 13 and 15 in Europe and North America.

85% of Italian teenagers use a smartphone

The modern cell phone, the smartphone, in addition to its original use, that is, to make a phone call, serves as a computer. In fact, it guarantees access to the internet world 24 hours a day. According to some recent data, in Italy 85% of adolescents between 11 and 17 use smartphones every day and 72% surf the internet on a daily basis. Most teenagers spend an average of 3 to 6 hours a day with their smartphone, which is also used at school during lessons. Between the ages of 11 and 13, the time spent “online” drops slightly, probably due to a control by parents who protect their children from accessing inappropriate and often dangerous content.

The opinion of the pediatrician

The risks associated with the use of smartphones – explains Francesco Andolina, responsible for healthy newborns at the Serena Nursing Home and H24 pediatrics manager at the Salus center in Palermo – there are many. Before sleep, it negatively impacts the circadian rhythm as it causes excitement and difficulty falling asleep. Increased tendency to be distracted at school and inattention while walking down the street with risk of accidents. An addiction favored by being able to access your smartphone wherever you are and at any time of the day. The internet often turns into a haven for shy kids who have difficulty in relationships with their peers. Isolation, in the most serious cases, can become a real disease: in this case we are talking about a phenomenon called Hikikomori, which exposes you to the risk of developing psychiatric diseases. This phenomenon, in Italy, mainly concerns young people aged 14 to 30, especially males, who spend over 12 hours a day on the internet. The onset of new forms of visual disturbances related to the abnormal illumination of the screen, associated with dry eyes, irritation, eye fatigue and glare may arise; muscle aches: especially in the neck and shoulders, related to abnormal posture.

Limit the time of use

Among the recommendations – Andolina emphasizes – it is important to encourage open communication between parent and adolescent, explaining to children what a positive and intelligent use of media devices means. Parents should monitor the time their child spends on tablets, smartphones and PCs, first learning the available technologies in order to understand them and sharing activities as much as possible. It is necessary to limit the time of use of smartphones, tablets and PCs during the day or on weekends, by establishing precise times for example during meals, homework and family gatherings. Finally, collaboration between parents, pediatricians and health professionals is essential to protect and support children through information campaigns that provide greater awareness of the positive aspects but also of the risks that excessive use presents ”, concludes the pediatrician.

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