Risks Your Kids Take When Playing Games on Mobile Devices

By Christopher D. Johnson, MD, FACS


This past year has been unlike any other.  During the pandemic, people found themselves inside more than ever before and children often passed the time with a videogame in hand.  According to an article published by pewresearch.org, “More than one-third of parents with a child under 12 say their child began interacting with a smartphone before the age of 5.”

Hopefully, since the summer is here and the weather is getting warm, kids will be swimming, biking and simply spending time outdoors.  If however, your child is playing video games on mobile phones, what is the potential impact from an orthopaedic standpoint?

According to recent studies, children aged 9-15 will suffer from hand and wrist pain when playing video games. The issues can range from “gamers thumb” to nerve impingements.  When playing video games, girls reported twice the amount of pain while using a mobile phone as opposed to a hand held console.  With each additional hour spent on the video game, the pain doubled, according to the study. 

While it is difficult to gauge the long-term effects that this will have on hands and wrists, one thing is certain, repetitive use often leads to pain.  

“Tendons and ligaments in the hands and wrists are oftentimes subjected to overuse injuries and conditions”, says Dr. Christopher Johnson, MD hand, wrist and sports medicine specialist at Professional Orthopaedic Associates.  “Treatment options for this type of pain vary, but activity modification as well as rest and anti-inflammatories can help”.     

Dr. Johnson stated “I highly recommend that children play outdoors.  A more balanced level of activity with both video games and sports will decrease the risk of overuse injuries from computer usage.  Being outside will not only benefit them from an orthopaedic standpoint, but it is also better for their vision and gross motor skills.”