WHO study finds kids’ use of technology is wreaking havoc on their health

17 May 2017

Image: Uber Images/Shutterstock

A new report from the World Health Organisation is warning parents that the prevalence of technology in society is making their children dangerously unhealthy.

Parents may have already formed a negative opinion on their children’s frequent use of technology, but now a report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) is putting it in writing.

Questionnaires were sent to 200,000 children across 42 countries, analysing their general health both in terms of their diets and the amount of physical activity they do each day.

Worryingly, the findings shows that children are in serious danger of developing unhealthy lifestyles that could one day lead to conditions such as type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Between 2002 and 2014, the report found that two-thirds of kids from the age of 11 were spending at least two hours a day browsing the internet or chatting to friends through social media.

Broken down between genders, the study showed that these figures are exceeded by 80pc of 15 year-old-boys and 70pc of 15-year-old girls, meaning only a small minority of teens are within healthy limits.

Showing the dramatic growth of computer use over time, in 2002, less than 10pc of 15-year-old girls in countries including Denmark and Ukraine used computers daily.

The biggest worry for health experts is for girls, where findings show that they are rapidly catching up with boys in screen time, tripling with the rise of social media on multiple platforms.

“The high rates of obesity observed in many adolescent populations across Europe is of great public health concern, not only for the health of the present generation of young people, but also for future adult populations,” the WHO said.

“Concerns are heightened because many countries and regions are continuing to experience increasing prevalence of obesity, and current and future health consequences worsen with increasing BMI.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic