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Kids May Get Pain From Playing Handheld Games

Young people who use gaming devices or mobile phones for extended periods of time may experience pain in their wrists and fingers, a study shows.

May 25, 2011 -- Young people who use gaming devices or mobile phones for extended periods of time may experience pain in their wrists and fingers, a study shows.

Researchers studied the effects of playing computer games on devices such as a Gameboy or an Xbox on wrist and finger pain in 257 students between the ages of 9 and 15 in two schools in St. Louis.

They also looked at the effect of mobile phone use, including texting, over time.

The researchers found that a higher amount of wrist and finger pain was reported by the students due to the use of gaming devices compared to the use of mobile phones.

"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, a professor of rheumatology at New York University Hospital, says in a news 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."

Playing Games Brings Pain

Students participating in the study were given a questionnaire asking about game consoles, handheld gaming devices, and mobile phone use. The number of hours the devices were used and amount of wrist and finger pain experienced were recorded.

Pain was worse for youths who used a Gameboy or Xbox compared to kids who used the iPhone. The researchers say that each hour of play increased the odds of reported pain by twofold.

In mobile phone users, wrist and finger pain was associated with sending text messages, number of texts sent, use of text abbreviations, and the type of keyboard.

Among mobile phone users, girls reported twice as much pain as boys.

The researchers conclude that the findings could have implications for ages when children should be allowed to start using gaming consoles, handheld devices, and mobile phones and could lead to recommendations for parents.

The study is being presented at the annual congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in London, May 25-May 28.

This study is being presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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