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Study: Youth health in danger from frequent digital device use

Summarised by Centrist 

COVID lockdowns presented an opportunity to research the effects of increased use of digital devices in a way that would never have been allowed by an ethics committee. Turns out a recent study published in the New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy shows negative impacts on vision, hearing, sleep, obesity, physical and mental health are all more evident since lockdown.

Compared to the global average of 35 hours per week, New Zealand’s youth spend 42 hours per week on digital devices and it’s affecting their health.

For instance, according to RNZ, the shift to indoors meant a manyfold increase of children diagnosed with myopia – short-sightedness:

“As many as three times as many children between six and nine years old were found to have myopia than any of the previous five years.”

Despite global trends towards limiting screen use, New Zealand lacks specific guidelines or structured support for managing excessive device usage among youth. 

Julie Cullen, a student at Auckland University of Technology and a paediatric physiotherapist, told RNZ that due to prolific screen use, determining causation would require considerable time and effort, because it’s challenging to study individuals who do not use screens.

Read more over at RNZ

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