More children are suffering from joint and tendon pains caused by the frequent use of electronic gadgets, a survey has found, and physiotherapists warn that their developing bodies are more vulnerable to the damage.
A study conducted by Polytechnic University and the Physiotherapy Association found that 28 per cent of 582 students polled this year suffered neck, shoulder, wrist or other pains from their regular use of electronic devices.
More than 80 per cent of the respondents, aged 10 to 15, were regular smartphone users. Of them, 40 per cent said they used the gadget between one and four hours each day.
"We have been seeing more children coming to us with pains," said Nerita Chan Nar-chi, chairwoman of the association's paediatric speciality group. "We used to see far fewer pain cases in paediatrics."
Chan said children had a higher head-to-body ratio than adults, so when they bowed their heads to use their devices, it put more of a strain on their necks.
Dr Grace Szeto Pui-yuk, an associate professor of rehabilitation sciences at the university, said soft tissues in children's bones were still growing and were more easily damaged.
Poor posture also caused spinal deformities in some children, she added.
Chan recommended that parents apply the American Academy of Paediatrics' guideline of keeping children under the age of two away from any electronic screens. The academy advises that screen time for older children should be limited to two hours a day.