U-shaped link between Internet use and children health - beware of heavy use or very little/none

Study participants were categorized into 4 groups according to their intensity of Internet use:

- heavy Internet users (HIUs; >2 hours/day)
- regular Internet users (RIUs; several days per week and 2 hours/day)
- occasional users (1 hour/week)
- and non-Internet users (NIUs; no use in the previous month)

Health factors examined were:

- perceived health
- depression
- overweight
- headaches
- back pain
- insufficient sleep

U-shaped link

Heavy Internet users of both genders were more likely to report higher depressive scores.

Only male users were found at increased risk of overweight and female users at increased risk of insufficient sleep.

Non-Internet users (NIUs) and occasional users also were found at increased risk of higher depressive scores.

Back-pain complaints were found predominantly among male non-Internet users.

There was a U-shaped relationship between intensity of Internet use and poorer mental health of adolescents. Heavy Internet users were confirmed at increased risk for somatic health problems.

Regular Internet use (up to 2 hours per day) is OK

Health professionals should be on the alert when caring for adolescents who report either heavy Internet use or very little/none. Regular Internet use as a normative behavior without major health consequences.

Take home point

Whatever the intensity of your Internet use is (if you are reading this, my guess is that the "intensity" of you sedentary lifestyle is high), don't forget the benefits of regular exercise.

If you need any more convincing, please see this Thai Health Promotion Foundation video that clearly shows the benefits of exercise:

A U-Shaped Association Between Intensity of Internet Use and Adolescent Health. PEDIATRICS Vol. 127 No. 2 February 2011, pp. e330-e335 (doi:10.1542/peds.2010-1235)
Image source: Wikipedia, public domain.

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