A new report by The Sun says the incidence of repetitive stress injuries among children has skyrocketed, while more traditional childhood injuries caused by things like falling out of trees have dropped off dramatically.

Serious repetitive strain injuries suffered “after spending hours glued to consoles” are up 60 percent since 2002, according to numbers obtained by The Sun, while the number of kids who have been hurt while climbing trees has dropped off by 50 percent over the same period. Injuries caused by skateboarding, rollerblading, skiing and “other skating accidents” had fallen even more, down by 57 percent over the past seven years.

“This fall in what would be perceived as traditional growing-up accidents is bad news for childhood,” said sociology professor Frank Furedi. “The digital bedroom culture is growing all the time at the expense of the outdoors. Doing physically challenging outdoor activities teaches children how to deal with risk – and they learn about their own strengths and weaknesses.”

I’m sure that many of you are all set to remind me that The Sun is a trashy rag, but this report has a certain ring of validity to it. The explosive growth in the popularity of videogaming across all age groups over the past decade is a simple enough explanation for the rise in related injuries; more distressing in my mind is the drop in “traditional” injuries, a fairly certain sign that kids aren’t going outside, running around and doing stupid things to hurt themselves the way they used to.

As Game Culture suggests, it could be caused at least in party by the “increased urbanization [that] has severely reduced the number of climbable trees over the years,” but I think it’s also quite possible that parents just don’t let kids engage in those kinds of “dangerous” activities anymore. Whatever the reason, I’m inclined to go along with Professor Furedi on this one: Kids who don’t have at least the opportunity to bust themselves up now and then – and not just by straining their thumbs – are missing out on an important part of growing up.

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