Too Much Gaming is a Pain in the Neck

    24 March, 2015

    From VOA Learning English, this is the Health and Lifestyle report.

    Most children have heard their parents at one time or another yell "sit up straight!" or "don't slouch!"

    In the past, this was usually heard at the dinner table as children ate dinner. But these days, it is also heard around another activity – video games.

    Ten-year old Owaish Batliwala, from Mumbai, India, admits he spends three to four hours each day playing games on his tablet computer. His mother Mehzabin became concerned when her son started saying that his neck hurt.

    This chart shows the stress put on the neck and spine as a result of hunching over a smartphone. (Courtesy Dr. Ken Hansraj M.D.)

    She said, "My son started having neck problems around June or July. The pain slowly spread to his hand and his back. He plays for hours on the iPad and mobile phone. This is what has caused the problem."

    Sadia Vanjara is a physical therapist. She says the number of young children with chronic pain in their necks, arms and shoulders is on the rise. Dr. Vanjara says the pain is not from aging, accidents or disease. It is from poor posture, or body position, while playing video games.

    "They are not aging, they haven't had an accident, their age is like, under 10, they are not complaining, the blood reports are fine, their x-rays are fine, their MRI's are fine, then where is the culprit? And that is the very common thing that is happening amongst all children and that is smart phones and the gadgets."

    This is a problem in many parts of the world. But there are more smartphone users in India than anywhere else in the world, except China. Networking equipment company Cisco estimates that the number of smartphone users in India will increase from 140 million today to 651 million by 2020.

    19-year old student Nida Jameel says she feels pain in the finger which holds the weight of her smartphone most of the day.

    She says she uses her smartphone 24/7. This means 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or all the time.

    "As I use phone 24/7 (all day) like, so probably yeah, it was because of the phone, continuous usage and Snapchat, Whatsapp, more and more you know social media coming, so like phone is the center of everything."

    Dr. Vanjara says the best treatments for the pain are daily exercises.

    Too Much Gaming is a Pain in the Neck
    Doctors say that holding your smartphone in a bad position could lead to problems with your hands and fingers.(2011 FILE PHOTO)

    "And start stretching it in all the possible directions that you can."

    Correct posture can help prevent pain. Dr. Vanjara teaches children how to hold their gadgets correctly. She tells a patient to hold the gadget in front of the face. She says that bending the head down to look at the device, strains the neck and creates an unhealthy bend to the back.

    Sadia Vanjara predicts we will see not only physical but psychological and emotional problems resulting from overuse of gadgets.

    Experts advise taking breaks from using a computer or other device often. Stand up. Stretch your legs, back, shoulders and arms. And when your work or school work is done, unplug and exercise.

    And that's the Health and Lifestyle report.

    I'm Anna Matteo.

    Are you experiencing physical difficulty from too much use of your gadgets? Let us know in the comments section.

    VOA correspondent George Putic reported this story from Washington, D.C. Anna Matteo wrote it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


    Words in This Story

    slouch v. to walk, sit, or stand lazily with your head and shoulders bent forward

    posture – n. the way in which your body is positioned when you are sitting or standing

    physical therapist– n. someone who treats a disease or injury of the muscles or joints with massage, exercises, heat, etc.

    chronic adj. continuing or occurring again and again for a long time

    strain v. to injure (a body part or muscle) by too much tension, use or effort

    unplug v. to disconnect (something, such as a lamp or television) from an electrical source or another device by removing its plug

    24/7 – adv., adj. twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; all the time

    gadget – n. a small, useful device