This year for the holidays more than ever, a lot of people will be receiving a brand new video game system. Even though we might not think it, we must set time limits to prevent video game injuries. Some children now experience the same types of aches and pains as their parents get from sitting at a desk all day. If we take the steps today to help kids, we can prevent common injuries that can reduce pain and reduce the risk of long-term damage.
Chiropractors believe common musculoskeletal issues can be caused by hours of gaming in front of a screen due to lack of movement and postural stresses. Common issues among gamers are eye strain, wrist, arm, elbow and hand strain, classic carpal tunnel syndrome and upper back and neck pain.
Here are some tips to help reduce these risks.
Moderation – Limiting video game time is a good way to offset potential musculoskeletal problems. If you play for two hours, then take a break for two hours is usually the recommended limit. It is also encouraged to participate in physical activities and face to face time with friends or siblings.
Ergonomics – To reduce the chance of injury, it is suggested to make the gaming environment as ergonomic as possible. Make sure the screen is at eye level, so necks don’t have to bend too far up or down. Encourage them to keep their bodies in a neutral position, which means muscles shouldn’t be too contracted or too extended. If sitting, use a chair that has back support and cushioned arm rests. Keep the body aligned, with ears over shoulders and shoulders over hips.
Movement – Not only should time limits be a thing, but micro-breaks should be implemented too. Take a 15 second break every 15 minutes. During this quick break, you should take your eyes off the screen and stretch your arms, elbows and legs. Make sure to stretch your fingers and wrist too. Sitting on a gym ball while playing video games can also encourage small movements as you have to shift to maintain balance.
Talking to kids about the risks of overdoing video games is always a good idea. When kids learn about the permanent damage they can do to the bodies by not taking the proper precautions that could make an impact. Kids can’t control themselves, so we as parents need to do our part and moderate them.
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