Kids’ phone use is creating a hidden ‘epidemic’ of weakened bones and fractures

If there was ever a reason to force your kids to take a break from screens, the idea of premature hip fractures could be it. An expert has warned that children’s sedentary lives puts them at risk of early-onset bone weakness.

Dawn Skelton, a professor of ageing and health and an adviser to the Royal Osteoporosis Society, told the Daily Mail that because children today spend so much time on their phones they are at risk of having weakened bones and fractures, decades earlier than they otherwise should.

This could see a large proportion of people in their 40s and 50s having to get hip replacements, rather than in their 70s and 80s as is more common today. Skelton even said the children’s parents could be the ones looking after them as adults, rather than the other way around.

According to the expert, if children haven’t moved enough when they’re young, their skeletons will be affected and will leave them at risk of fractures. She referred to the issue as a hidden problem that could become an “epidemic” when the children reach middle age.

“Young people need to move and jump about for their bones to grow properly because they build the vast majority of their bones by the time they reach puberty,” Skelton explains. “After the age of 15 it’s not as easy to lay down bone, and growth slows significantly.”

Bones get stronger the more they are used. We build up our bones through exercise and consumption of calcium and vitamin D. Children should really be getting an hour of exercise a day. Weight-bearing activities like running, jumping and climbing are good for building bones, as muscles and gravity put pressure on the bones, making the body then build up stronger bone.

Skelton has urged parents to enforce hourly screen breaks and to encourage children to be more active through walking and sport. “If you haven’t laid down a good baseline of bone, ageing will start happening much earlier and the slightest fall could lead to a fracture,” she said.