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Too Much Internet May Be Bad for Teenagers

Three young Vietnamese girls use a laptop and smart phones to go online at a cafe in Hanoi, VietNam Wednesday, May 14, 2013. (AP PHOTO)
Three young Vietnamese girls use a laptop and smart phones to go online at a cafe in Hanoi, VietNam Wednesday, May 14, 2013. (AP PHOTO)
Too Much Internet May Give Teens High Blood Pressure
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Health and Lifestyle report.

The Internet plays a big part in human life. We use it for work and entertainment. We can find new recipes on the Internet or advice on staying healthy. We can even use it to learn a new language. We use the Internet to connect with family and friends and stay in touch with issues we care about.

The list goes on and on.

As far as the Internet being a part of our lives – well, that train has left the station. That expression means there is no going back. If you prefer boating, you can say that ship has sailed.

So, there may be no going back to an Internet-free life. But can using the Internet too much be bad for our health?

It might be, say researchers.

A new study finds that heavy Internet use may be connected to high blood pressure in an unlikely group -- teenagers.

The study results show that teens who spend at least 14 hours a week online were more likely to have high blood pressure.

High blood pressure makes your heart and blood vessels work too hard. Over time, this extra strain increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

High blood pressure can also cause heart and kidney disease. It is also closely linked to some forms of dementia, a brain disease. Dementia is marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and a reduced ability to reason.

The study

The Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan did the study. It involved 335 young people, from 14 to 17 years old. One hundred thirty-four of the teens were described as "heavy Internet users." Researchers found that out of these 134 teens, 26 had high blood pressure.

The researchers say the study is the first to connect heavy web use and high blood pressure. Other research has connected that heavy Internet use with health problems including anxiety, depression and obesity.

The lead researcher of the study is Andrea Cassidy-Bushrow. In a statement she said, "Using the Internet is part of our daily life but it shouldn't consume us."

For the purpose of the study, she explains, teens considered heavy Internet users were online on “average 25 hours a week."

Ms. Cassidy-Bushrow adds that it is important for teens to take "regular breaks from their computers or smartphones” and to do some “kind of physical activity."

She also suggests that parents limit their children's use of the Internet to two hours a day, five days a week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, 70 million, or 29%, of American adults have high blood pressure. Just more than half of those people have taken steps to control it. The CDC estimates that high blood pressure costs the United States $46 billion each year.

The study was published in the Journal of School Nursing.

And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report. I’m Anna Matteo.

Anna Matteo adapted this story from VOA for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

train has left the station idiomatic expression (another way to say this is “that ship has sailed”)

blood vessels ­– n. a small tube that carries blood to different parts of a person or animal's body

strain ­– v. to injure by overuse, misuse, or excessive pressure

consume – v. to absorb completely; engross or obsess