Study links internet addiction in teens to elevated blood pressure

10 October 2015

Teens who spend hours on the internet may risk suffering from high blood pressure and weight gain, according to researchers.

Researchers found that teens who spent at least 14 hours a week on the internet had elevated blood pressure and of 134 teens described by researchers as heavy internet users, 26 had elevated blood pressure.

This is said to be the first study to link time spent on the internet and high blood pressure.

The findings add to growing research that had shown an association between heavy internet use and other health risks such as addiction, anxiety, depression, obesity and social isolation, researchers said.

"Using the internet is part of our daily life but it shouldn't consume us. In our study, teens considered heavy internet users were on the internet an average of 25 hours a week," said Andrea Cassidy-Bushrow, a researcher at Henry Ford's Department of Public Health Sciences, PTI reported.

"It's important that young people take regular breaks from their computer or smartphone, and engage in some form of physical activity. I recommend to parents they limit their children's' time at home on the internet. I think two hours a day, five days a week is good rule of thumb," Cassidy-Bushrow said.

The study involved 335 teen including males and females aged between 14 years and 17 years, whose blood pressure was measured during a physical exam by doctors. Before the physical exam, participants answered 55 questions on their internet over the week.

Questions related to their internet use, how they spent time over the web, and the level of their activity on social media, etc.

For the study internet use included visiting websites, emailing, playing online games, completing homework, downloading files, using social media and maintaining web pages.

On analysis of the data, researchers found that on average teens spent nearly 15 hours in a week over the web. Of the 134 teens described as heavy internet users, 26 had high blood pressure, 39 per cent girls in the study came in the category of heavy internet users while 43 per cent boys used the internet heavily.

According to the researchers, teens who spend 25 hours a week on the internet were heavy internet users.

A major new study has shown that treating blood pressure more aggressively than usual, cuts the risk of heart disease and death in people over age 50, the National Institutes of Health said yesterday. (See: US study points to benefits of aggressively treating blood pressure).

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