Gaming Devices, Cell Phones Cause Wrist, Finger Pain in Children

For the first time, results on the impact of gaming devices on finger and wrist pain in children were presented at the European League Against Rheumatism 2011 Annual Congress. Data comparing two schools in the United States demonstrate that young children experience high levels of pain following long-term use of gaming devices and mobile phones indicating that excessive gaming may negatively impact joint health.

The study, involving 257 students, highlights that they experienced a higher degree of pain with the use of gaming devices compared to mobile phones. Pain reported by children using Xbox and Gameboy was statistically higher than pain reported for the iPhone (p=0.036 and p=0.042, respectively). The length of time spent on the devices heightened the pain suffered, as the data demonstrated that length of time was independently associated with the pain reported, with the odds of reporting pain increasing by two for every 1 hour of play.

“Our study has shown the negative impact that playing computer games and using mobile phones can have on the joints of young children, raising concerns about the health impact of modern technology later in life,” Yusuf Yazici, MD, professor of rheumatology at the New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases, stated in a press release. “We hope that further research in this area will shed light on what could be a serious health concern for today’s gaming children, in later life.”

The study also investigated pain attributed to mobile phone usage for the sending of text messages, the number of texts sent, the use of abbreviations and the type of keyboard used, according to age and gender. The results indicated that female students reported twice as much pain as male students respectively, measured using the 10 cm Visual Analogue Scale, a pain measurement scale, and gender was the only independent variable associated with pain.

The study involved 257 students from ages 9 to 15 years, from two schools in St. Louis. They answered a questionnaire to aid researchers in determining the possible association that device type, child’s age and hours played may have on wrist and finger pain. A multivariable generalized linear model examined whether reported pain was associated with game device usage adjusting for age, gender, school and duration of game play per game device.

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