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The association between use of electronic media and prevalence of headache in adolescents: results from a population-based cross-sectional study

Astrid Milde-Busch1*, Rüdiger von Kries1, Silke Thomas2, Sabine Heinrich2, Andreas Straube3 and Katja Radon2

Author affiliations

1 Institute of Social Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Heiglhofstrasse 63, 81377 Munich, Germany

2 Institute and Outpatient Clinic for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, Unit for Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology & NetTeaching, Hospital of the University Munich, Ziemssenstrasse 1, 80336 Munich, Germany

3 Department of Neurology, Klinikum Grosshadern, Hospital of the University Munich, Marchioninistrasse 15, 81377 Munich, Germany

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Citation and License

BMC Neurology 2010, 10:12  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-10-12

Published: 9 February 2010



Use of electronic media, i.e. mobile phones, computers, television, game consoles or listening to music, is very common, especially amongst adolescents. There is currently a debate about whether frequent use of these media might have adverse effects on health, especially on headaches, which are among the most-reported health complaints in adolescents. The aim of the present study was to assess associations between frequent use of electronic media and the prevalence of different types of headache in adolescents.


Data were derived from a population-based sample (n = 1,025, ages 13-17 years). Type of headache (i.e. migraine, tension-type headache, unclassifiable headache) was ascertained by standardized questionnaires for subjects reporting headache episodes at least once per month during the last six months. Duration of electronic media use was assessed during personal interviews. Associations were estimated with logistic regression models adjusted for age group, sex, family condition and socio-economic status.


Most of the adolescents used computers (85%), watched television (90%) or listened to music (90%) daily, otherwise only 23% of the participants used their mobile phones and only 25% played with game consoles on a daily basis. A statistically significant association between listening to music and any headache (odds ratio 1.8; 95% confidence interval 1.1-3.1 for 30 minutes per day, 2.1; 1.2-3.7 for 1 to 2 hours per day; 2.0; 1.2-3.5 for 3 hours and longer listening to music per day) was observed. When stratifying for type of headache, no statistically significant association was seen.


Apart from an association between listening to music on a daily basis and overall headache, no consistent associations between the use of electronic media and different types of headache were observed.