Dramatic increases in computer use are causing health problems among Scottish youths, warns a report from the World Health organisation.
Experts speculate that the increase in screen time is leading to a lack of exercise and is thus fuelling the childhood obesity epidemic. Scottish teens are some of the top computer users in Europe, with 79.9 per cent of girls and 83.6 per cent of boys between 11 and 15 spending over two hours on a computer, tablet or phone on weekdays.
The figures are higher than England (74.6 and 76.5 per cent respectively) and higher than Wales for girls (76.4) but lower for boys (84.6). All represent an over 50 per cent increase on 2002 figures.
Scotland came top out of the 42 countries in the study for girls and third for boys. Between 5-6,000 children filled out questionnaires for the study in each country.
Lead author Dr Jo Inchley, from the University of St Andrews, said: “One of the main challenges for us is that this kind of activity (social media and computer use) is so much part of young people’s lives these days, how do we manage this and the health risks associated with it?
“It’s about reducing time being spent sedentary, and ensuring that children still have opportunity to be active. We really need to start addressing these challenges now.”
Only a fifth of boys in England, Scotland and Wales exercise for an hour a day – the amount recommended by the UK Government. The situation is even worse for girls, with only 14 per cent of Scottish girls meeting the recommendation.
Read the full report here.