A new study has found yet another negative impact of video games on kids – this time, it’s purely physical. Two Dutch orthopaedic specialists have discovered a new medical condition and they’re calling it “Gameboy Back.” It’s a curvature of the spine found in kids that results from too many hours spent hunched over Gameboys, iPads and other electronic gaming devices.
This new condition, most prevalent in children 8 years old to 18 years old, is truly exclusive to the 21st century. The kids afflicted with “Gameboy Back” exhibit symptoms that used to only affect hard working adults over the age of 50.
Surgeons Piet van Loon and Andre Soeterbroek say that the last time such a large amount of children were stricken with back problems and spinal curvature this severe was about 100 years ago. “In those days, kids got weak backs from child labor; now they’re getting it from these devices,” said Dr Soeterbroek. “It makes no difference to the body whether you’re hunched over in a cigar factory or spending eight hours over an iPad.”
The condition is somewhat more disconcerting in children than adults because their bones are still growing and more impressionable, if you will. Consistently bad posture can cause the bones to grow incorrectly. “Essentially, it’s like growing bonsai trees: bone responds in the same way as wood,” said Dr van Loon. “If you force it in a certain direction over a prolonged period, that’s how it ends up growing.”
The good news is, if you catch the condition early, before the child is finished growing, the curvature can most likely be reversed.
Not too long ago, parents, grandparents, teachers and almost every other authority figure you can image constantly chided and reminded children to “sit up straight.” I remember vividly my grandmother’s bony fingers poking me between my shoulder blades and warning me if I didn’t pull my shoulders back, I’d “end up with a hump.” But that mantra has all but disappeared nowadays. Our society has become much more lackadaisical when it comes to proper posture in kids.
In order to correct and prevent this problem, we adults will have to become much more conscientious about educating kids on how to get and maintain healthy posture. Good posture is attained by strengthening core stomach muscles, sitting with both feet firmly planted on the ground and pulling the chin back to balance the head above the spine. In addition, kids should get up at least once an hour to stretch and realign their bodies. Bottom line, the more kids limit their time in front of screens and increase their time doing physical activity, the happier and healthier they will be.
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.
Image Credit: Video Games by Clarence Fisher. Used under a creative commons license.
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