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Long Hours on Internet May Endanger Teen Health

Long Hours on Internet May Endanger Teen Health

A surprising new study finds that teens who spend hours on the Internet may be at risk for high blood pressure.

Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit found that teens who spent at least 14 hours a week on the Internet had elevated blood pressure.

Of 134 teens described by researchers as heavy Internet users, 26 had elevated blood pressure.

The study, published in the Journal of School Nursing, is believed to be the first to show a link between time spent on the Internet and high blood pressure.

The findings add to growing research that has shown an association between heavy Internet use and other health risks like addiction, anxiety, depression, obesity, and social isolation.

As in many addictions, the difference is use versus abuse.

Andrea Cassidy-Bushrow, Ph.D., M.P.H., a researcher at Henry Ford’s Department of Public Health Sciences and the study’s lead author, said the take-home message for teens and parents is moderation.

“Using the Internet is part of our daily life but it shouldn’t consume us,” she says. “In our study, teens considered heavy Internet users were on the Internet an average of 25 hours a week.

“It’s important that young people take regular breaks from their computer or smartphone, and engage in some form of physical activity. I recommend to parents they limit their children’s’ time at home on the Internet. I think two hours a day, five days a week is good rule of thumb.”

Cassidy-Bushrow says the findings provide valuable information for school nurses for monitoring the health of students.

“School nurses could conduct annual health screenings where blood pressure and Internet use behaviors could be assessed. Students with an elevated blood pressure would then have a follow-up visit to determine next steps.”

In the study, researchers analyzed data compiled from 335 teens ages 14-17. This included a blood pressure reading taken during a physical exam.

Participants also completed a 55-question survey of their Internet use during the week leading up to their physical exam. Questions ranged from how they spent their time on the Internet and their number of email addresses to time spent on the Internet daily and for what purpose.

For their study, researchers defined Internet use as visiting web sites, emailing, instant messaging, playing games, doing homework, shopping, downloading software, and creating or maintaining webpages. Other findings:

  • Teens spent on average 15 hours a week on the Internet at either school or home;
  • 44 percent of black teens were heavy Internet users compared with 36 percent white/other teens;
  • 39 percent of girls were heavy Internet users compared to 43 percent of boys;
  • 43 percent of heavy Internet users were considered overweight compared to 26 percent of light Internet users.

Source: Henry Ford Hospital

Long Hours on Internet May Endanger Teen Health

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Long Hours on Internet May Endanger Teen Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 13, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2015/10/07/long-hours-on-internet-may-endanger-teen-health/93217.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 7 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.