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Steve shared with us last week that he saw kids in his neighborhood using the Pokemon Go app. Initially he thought it was great as the kids were outside walking around, this changed quickly when the kids hopped in Mom’s car and they were off looking for some more characters to capture. Mary shared with us her stepson and his near mishap playing the game, should we be concerned??

Fortunately nationwide this is not the case and health experts are very happy to see a technology that has been blamed for causing sedentary lifestyles to promote the opposite and getting these kids up and mobile. We are now seeing many kids and some adults walking around looking at their phones. While it is great that they are up and moving around, the body position is not great. I know we can’t ask for everything but the game which was launched in early July has already caused many injuries.

Distracted walking causes close to 15,000 injuries a year requiring Emergency Room treatment. Experts expect to see this number increase dramatically with the popularity of augmented reality. The success and popularity of this game may be just the tip of the iceberg as more of these games are rolled out. The need to be mobile while watching your smartphone screen has the potential to lead to physical disasters.

How can someone get injured walking ? Well the National Safety Council has sent out an alert that players need to be very careful while playing the game. Within 6 hours of the game being released there was report of a individual who injured himself falling into a ditch while playing the game.

There have been many reports of sprained ankles, broken bones, facial fractures, lacerations , abrasions and contusions, all attributed to individuals playing Pokemon Go. The National Safety Council is urging for the restraint of playing in the vicinity of crowded sidewalks and streets. The other large concern is with individuals driving cars while playing the game.

The clear message is to be careful while playing the game, unfortunately the age group we are looking at often are not acting in a safe fashion. The children doing this in competitive packs has the potential for a child to venture into traffic without even knowing it.

Transient Blindness due to smartphone use in bed

We have discussed smartphones and the great source of medical information they have as well as the great health related apps that promote health. Let’s talk about another concern we are seeing and was just reported last week in the New England Journal of Medicine. The medical term is called “transient smartphone blindness” This occurs when individuals are using their cell phones in bed and one eye happens to be covered. For many it happens because they are lying on their side and reading the phone with one eye. The eye that is covered now adapts to a dark situation and the other is adapted to a light environment. The result is that one eye cannot see and thus the patient feels they are blind in the eye. The condition resolves but many patients are concerned they had a stroke or are going to start having migraines. The work ups for all of these patients are negative and the condition resolves with proper positioning and lighting while using your smartphone in bed.

Mental health and smartphone use

The entire spectrum of social media has come under scrutiny in the medical profession. Most of the concern has come from psychiatrists and psychologists. About 5 years ago the condition Facebook Depression was noted and defined by these professionals.

Facebook depression is an affliction that results from establishing a presence on social networking sites, spending a great deal of time on these sites and then feeling unaccepted among peers online.

This condition has been noted and many children, adolescents and teens have been treated for this condition. We all know the power of peer pressure, many feel that social media has taken peer pressure to another level. There are cases of suicide based on interactions in social media, some of it bullying others just the pressure placed on them from posts on social media sites. Parents should monitor the sites their children visit and the interactions that occur. Many parents require their children to “friend” them so they can sporadically monitor the tone as well as the interactions.

A recent study from University of Birmingham in the UK showed that social media sites hamper many children’s moral development. Parents were questioned about their perception of the traits their children exhibited and how much time was spent on social media sites. Parents listed anger and hostility as the most negative traits followed closely by arrogance and bad judgement. Parents highlighted a lack of forgiveness and self control issues among those who used social media frequently.

The message to parents is to monitor the sites as well as the amount of time a child spends on social media and to watch for signs of depression, hostility and anger. The study will be followed by a study on how much time is too much time on social media.

Check with your kids, be proactive, it may make a big difference in their lives.