Technological Diseases in Children: What to Know

March 18, 2019
Technological diseases are truly dangerous to children. Excessive use of smartphones, tablets, and television can have harmful consequences to our children's health.

Kids are learning to master smartphones, tablets and remote controls at increasingly young ages. You may already be used to seeing them looking for videos or playing games on their screens, but this can unfortunately lead to technological diseases.

What exactly are technological diseases? Read this article to learn everything you need to know.

What are technological diseases?

It seems like there’s a constant stream of new terms, new syndromes and new concepts in modern society. Many of the ailments we currently suffer from are related to technology, lack of exercise, or poor nutrition.

In this case, we’re focusing on technological diseases in children, a problem that may seem harmless but has consequences in the short, medium and long term.

These “diseases” or pathologies are on the rise, and while they’ve yet to be studied in detail, their existence cannot be denied. Worst of all, they affect children at very young ages.

What do we mean by technological diseases? Basically, the term refers to health problems created by the constant use of technological devices.

Although it may seem hard to believe, children are the main users of smartphones, tablets, and game consoles, and suffer the consequences that come with all of them.

Some of the primary technological diseases include:

1. Technological diseases: hearing problems due to headphone use

Headphones and earbuds used constantly at a high volume can create hearing problems, particularly with those that are placed inside the ear canal.

There is a trend toward listening to music, videos, and game audio at an increasingly loud volume in order to block out ambient noise. Many parents take their children to pediatricians due to poor hearing, and this if often due to headphone use.

In addition, we should take into account that these devices can cause tinnitus, a condition stemming from nerve damage in the ear.

Technological Diseases in Children: What to Know

2. Repetitive motion injuries

It’s hard to believe but there are even 5-year-old children with tendinitis in their wrists or carpal tunnel syndrome. There are more cases like this than you think, and they’re mostly due to spending hours holding a smartphone and pressing on the screen while playing games.

Another issue is tendinitis in the thumbs due to texting. These are the fingers most used to type on smartphones, and also the most affected by pain, stiffness, cramping and tingling.

3. Eye strain

Also known as visual stress, doctors consider this to be one of the most concerning technological diseases among children. Spending countless hours staring at a small screen causes strain in the eyes.

Other symptoms include dryness, light sensitivity, watery eyes, reddening, pain while reading, headaches, and nausea.

4. Insomnia

This is a technological disease we tend to associate with adolescence, but can also appear at earlier ages. Using screens late into the night puts the brain on alert and prevents healthy sleep.

“The screen has a blue light that interferes with the levels of the hormone melatonin (which induces sleep) and the regulation of the cycles of vigilance and rest.”

5. Muscle pain

Pain in the back, neck, and shoulders is a common consequence of using technological devices. Maintaining poor posture for hours while watching a movie or show, playing games, and watching videos can cause a curvature of the spine, changes in posture, cramps, and more.

Technological Diseases in Children: What to Know

6. Internet addiction

Cyber-addiction is one of the most worrisome technological diseases, with children not wanting to do anything but stay in their room with a screen in front of them.

They have their phone next to them at dinner, on vacations, on family outings (if we can force them to go), at school…the addiction is so strong that they sleep with smartphones under their pillows. If for some reason they have to go without it for a few minutes, they feel they’re missing something essential.

What should you do if your children have a technological disease? First, restrict their access to the internet and their devices.

Plan outdoor leisure alternatives, and don’t let them use their smartphones in the two hours before they go to sleep. If necessary, seek appropriate professional help, be it a doctor, a psychologist, or a physiotherapist.

  • López, A. (2014). Las tecnopatías: enfermedades causadas por las tecnologías del siglo XXI. EFESALUD.