A new World Health Organisation report has suggested that a dramatic rise in the use of computers and social media is wreaking havoc on the health of young people.
Zeeko, an Irish EdTech start-up which works with parents and children, believes that education is key to promoting a healthy balance for children in using computers and social media.
Confirming high internet usage in Ireland among young children, Joe Kenny, Zeeko, founder and CEO, said, “We know from our 2016 survey of 4,400 primary school children in Ireland that 34% of them spend more than 2 hours screen time per day during weekdays. This figure rises to 54% of them spending more than 2 hours screen time per day at weekends.”
“Zeeko promotes the 5 to 1 rule in primary schools, for every 5 hours doing non-internet/technology activities such as playing football or reading a book, a child can earn 1-hour using internet/technology. It is really about promoting a healthy balance between using the internet/technology and sleep, physical activity, socialising with friends and other non-internet/technology activities.”
He added, “The internet/technology is an integral part of young people’s academic, professional and personal lives with many benefits such as enhanced self-esteem, expression of identity, enhancement of interpersonal relationships and social interactions among others.”
He concluded, “We need to invest and develop positive behaviours among primary school children in order alleviate the impact of excessive internet/ technology use among teenagers. We need to empower primary school children through education to strike a healthy balance between time using internet/ technology and non-internet activities.”
Zeeko, founded by Joe Kenny in 2013 is headquartered at NovaUCD, the Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs at University College Dublin and is an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up (HPSU) company.
Zeeko recently received European Union funding to evaluate the side effects of virtual reality technology on young people, in the areas of education, environment behaviour, empathy and health.
Between July 2016 and June 2017, Zeeko will deliver internet safety seminars in primary schools, secondary schools and companies to over 60,000 pupils, 2,900 teachers and 6,000 parents.
Last year Zeeko successfully ran a crowdfunding campaign to publish the Zeeko Internet Safety Guide. A free digital copy of the guide was sent to every primary school in Ireland.
The WHO Report is based on the results of surveys sent to over 200,000 children in 42 countries and is entitled ‘Adolescent obesity and related behaviours: trends and inequalities in the WHO European Region, 2002-2014’.
The report is available via http://www.euro.who.int/__
The Report will be launched today at the European Congress on Obesity being held in Portugal.