Staying connected is important to teens, but a new study claims too much time on the internet could lead to serious health problems. The research, in the latest issue of Journal of School Nursing, suggests that teens who spend at least 14 hours per week on the Internet may be at risk for high blood pressure.
This is believed to be the first study to show a link between time spent on the Internet and high blood pressure. The findings add to growing research that has shown an association between heavy Internet use and other health risks like addiction, anxiety, depression, obesity and social isolation.
The study’s lead author, Andrea Cassidy-Bushrow, said the take-home message for teens and parents is moderation.
“Using the Internet is part of our daily life but it shouldn’t consume us,” she says. “In our study, teens considered heavy Internet users were on the Internet an average of 25 hours a week. It’s important that young people take regular breaks from their computer or smartphone, and engage in some form of physical activity. I recommend to parents they limit their children’s’ time at home on the Internet. I think two hours a day, five days a week is good rule of thumb.”
For their study, researchers defined Internet use as visiting web sites, emailing, instant messaging, playing games, doing homework, shopping, downloading software, and creating or maintaining webpages. Other findings:
- Teens spent on average 15 hours a week on the Internet at either school or home;
- 44 percent of black teens were heavy Internet users compared with 36 percent white/other teens;
- 39 percent of girls were heavy Internet users compared to 43 percent of boys;
- 43 percent of heavy Internet users were considered overweight compared to 26 percent of light Internet users.
It’s unrealistic to think we can “shut down” teen internet use, so how can we moderate that use to eliminate potential health risks? Finding those answers is another step toward reaching our vision of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!