A few years ago, children used to look forward to going to playgrounds and parks in the evening. However, these days, they just sit for hours at a place and play their favorite video games. Studies claim that over 70% of gamers aged 8-15 play video games every day. Clearly, technology has created problems that we need to solve and electronic gaming is new territory for us when it comes to medical intervention. It is high time that we prioritize the need for children to be physically active and healthy. This children’s day, let us remember the message – ‘let children be children’.
An October 2022 study published in the journal Heart Rhythm highlights how video gaming can be dangerous for children and teenagers. It talks about how children and teenagers are suffering from heart rhythm disturbances while playing video games. In many cases, the children suddenly blacked out, with some going into cardiac arrest- which is fatal without immediate emergency treatment.
Referring to the study, the author, world’s leading cardiac surgeon, encourages caution among children who are overly addicted to video games. In today’s world, it’s no secret that children are spending more time in front of digital screens than ever before – whether it’s for school, entertainment, or socializing with friends. While many children play video games without any harmful consequences, others can become obsessed. Although video games can be enjoyable and sometimes even educational, they should not replace real-life time with family and friends.
Parents who are worried that their child may be addicted to video games, can look for the following signs-
Dry or red eyes
Soreness in the back, neck, or fingers
Irritability when they’re not playing
Avoiding other activities in favor of gaming
Playing for long hours even on school nights.
Experts warn that spending too much time playing video games can lead to social isolation, sleep deprivation, heart issues, and poor grades at school. According to the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), children need to engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity every day.
To help your child find a balance, here’s what parents can do to encourage outdoor activities in their children, which are not only good for their heart and body health but also promote bonding and fun.
-Set an example for your children: Make time for outdoor activities yourself. Children try to imitate their parents, once you do the same they would also prefer to go out rather than sit indoors and play on the phone.
-Involve your children in planning family outings: Encourage the inclusion of outdoor activities
-Restrict screen time for children: this will also help to prevent problems like weak eyesight, and reduced brain development among other health issues.
-Make outdoor activity time fun: Incorporate games, picnics, or nature walks into the mix.
-Encourage participation in organized sports: Ensure your children make physical activity a part of their lives.
The author is the world’s leading cardiac surgeon and head of Mumbai’s Asian Heart Institute. He has been conferred the Padma Bhushan in January 2010, the third highest civilian award in India. He is an ambassador for healthcare reform in India and is among the world’s safest heart surgeons with a 99.8% success rate in bypass surgery