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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Concerns for young people who find it 'impossible to unplug' from games and gadgets

From sleep troubles to physical exhaustion, the UAE's health authorities are worried about effect on children and teenagers

Many young people are disturbing their sleep and concentration by playing video games and fidding with phones throughout the day. Pawan Singh / The National
Many young people are disturbing their sleep and concentration by playing video games and fidding with phones throughout the day. Pawan Singh / The National

Young people are playing video games and using phones and gadgets to the point of "physical exhaustion", government medics have said, as they urged parents to be aware of the number of hours being spent online.

Health officials said parents should ensure children are not playing games for more than two hours per day. Their comments came ahead of the return to school on Sunday.

Children who play for long hours may suffer behavioural problems, psychological disorders and muscle pain from sitting in uncomfortable positions for a long time, said the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi

said on Saturday.

“Children have become so engrossed in using technology nowadays that it has become almost impossible to unplug completely,” said Dr Jamal Al Naqbi, manager of the community health department.

"It is essential to find the right balance between children’s use of technologies, especially long and excessive hours of gaming, and more healthy and active pursuits.”

Dr Al Naqbi said there are positive effects associated with gaming, as it involves strategic thinking, problem solving, but that the negative consequences of constant gaming outweigh the benefits.

“Back and wrist pain, eye strain, headaches, stress, physical exhaustion, sleep disturbances and obesity are among the most common health problems associated with prolonged gameplay,” Dr Al Naqbi said.

“Parents are role models who set an example for their children to develop better habits. They are responsible for limiting the hours their children spend using video games and encouraging young ones to engage in social and sports activities that nurture their mental and physical well-being.”

It has also been found that children who are addicted to video games are more prone to stress, which directly impacts their organs, such as eye strain resulting from prolonged exposure to bright television or computer screens, which causes the eye to produce less moisture.

Video game use is also another factor behind child obesity, depression and poor academic performance.

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