Daily hazards in a hi-tech world

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 August, 2011, 12:00am


All things in moderation is the maxim for good health, and so it should be for iPhones and other hand-held electronic devices. Doctors are increasingly caring for patients in their 30s and younger with aches and pains in their shoulders and thumbs that are usually the domain of their parents and grandparents. The problem, the specialists say, is bad posture and they put it down directly to technology. Their message is plain and simple: sit up straight and do not overdo it.

Those are the wisest of words. They are applicable to so much of what we do and, if followed closely, will ensure that we stay fit in mind and body. Eating too much of a favourite food can have health consequences, and the same goes for our activities. In an age where hand-held devices are all around to keep us entertained or in touch with our friends and the world at all times and places, it is a message to be firmly kept in mind.

It is easy to fall into the trap of hunching over while playing a game or always using a thumb for texting messages. Office workers who sit for long hours in front of computers and forget to take regular breaks know the consequences: sore backs, neck and shoulders, and sometimes swollen hands. Using hand-held devices for lengthy periods also leads to aches and pains, and in the worst-case scenarios, long-term treatment and operations. That does not even take into account the effect on eyesight of staring for unreasonable amounts of time at a screen just centimetres away.

Pains from overuse of equipment must not be ignored. Doctors advise using a finger instead of thumbs on touch screens and keypads. They warn of the necessity to keep an upright posture. As important, though, is moderating behaviour and getting a healthy mix of activities that ensure smartphones, games and computers are put to one side and are out of reach. Parents have a role in ensuring that this happens. There is a wider world beyond the small screen, after all.