World Health Organization: Screen time is affecting kids' health

Published: May. 23, 2017 at 7:02 PM AKDT
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A dramatic rise in the use of computers and cell phones is affecting children's health, according to a new medical report from Europe.

A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) said obesity among children and young people is on the rise. The report said one in three adolescents is overweight because of too much time on computers and not enough time exercising.

"There has been a really steep increase, in the number of girls in particular, who are using computers on a daily basis, and that seems to mean that a lot of young people are spending their leisure time being sedentary with their screens and of course, that's got important implications for their health," says Dr. Jo Inchley of the WHO.

Health issues linked to obesity include an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

"I think it is a cause for concern," says Inchley. "I think we have to remember there are positive aspects to social media. It brings social interaction, it increases young people's social networks, and that can be really important for young people, but there are risks associated with it and especially with higher levels of use."

Other studies have shown too much time on computer or phones can cause some other issues.

"It affects sleep quality and also increases exposure to things like cyber-bullying, so we have to take those risks seriously. And then of course there's longer term health implications of spending a lot of time sitting, and that's something we need to address urgently," Inchley warns.