How can excessive use of social media make kids prone to heart disease?

What measures should parents take to avoid uncertainty in the future? Expert comment

Team Udayavani, Sep 29, 2023, 8:32 AM IST

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Social media has become an intrinsic part of our lives so much that we instinctively open our phones check Facebook or Instagram to keep a check on what’s happening in the world. Increased use of social media, according to a study done at a university was found to cause increase levels of chronic inflammation and release of C reactive protein in the system, making the person susceptible to diabetes, certain cancers and cardiovascular conditions.

People in the study who used social media more also reported more headaches, chest and back pains which led to multiple trips to doctors.

Excessive use of social media also has a negative mental impact in the form of insomnia depression mood swings in adolescents and teens who generally tend to have unstable thoughts, hence making them prone for morbid illness.

To maintain a healthy heart and brain, one must get adequate restful sleep. According to a study done in age group of 16- 24 years Electronic Media Device Usage (EMDU) was generally more than 7.5 hours a day which led to sleep initiation problems, sleep latency of more than 15 minutes and total sleep duration of less than 6 hours.

Sleep disturbances seem to induce adverse, sustained and systemic alternations which conceivably act in concert to ultimately predispose to cardiovascular diseases. Epidemiologic data confirm the link between inadequate sleep and metabolic disorders such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, both major precursors of cardiovascular disease.

Studies also reveal that lack of physical activity, sluggishness and poor stamina causes morbid obesity dyslipidemia and heart diseases at very young age. Uncontrolled snacking frequently accompanies people who have excessive social media usage. Another study at a university reveals that heavy users of social media have higher blood pressure at night, a risk factor for developing heart disease.

According to the Journal of Social and clinical psychology, it is recommended to use social media for only 30 minutes per day divided over 3 applications. Some methods to restrict social media addiction are like turning off social media notifications and reducing screen time are really useful.

Mandatory physical activity to prevent the effects of social media usage is to be inculcated in daily routines. Cultivating new hobbies and meeting friends and socializing physically are better alternatives than virtual ones.

Cyber revolution has indeed made our lives easier but everything comes with terms and conditions. Maintaining a balance is the key to prevent the bad side effects of excessive social media usage.

By Dr Narasimha Pai D, HOD Cardiology, KMC Hospital, Mangalore

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