Tech Neck Effects on Your Child’s Posture
Smartphones and tablets have quickly become a part of our everyday life. Many kids spend hours per day messaging with friends and playing the latest games.
Often, it’s done with their neck bent forward, shoulders rounded, and arms holding the phone up in front of their eyes. New research has shown this type of awkward position can lead to a painful condition called “Tech Neck.”
Why it Matters:
Recently, Scientific Reports published a shocking paper which found a “horn” growing off the back of the head of kids who spent a great deal of time on their cell phones and tablets. This extreme variation of Tech Neck is suspected to be influenced by constant pressure placed on the back of the head (the occiput) when the head is bent forward and chin is tucked. The excessive force can result in calcification of the soft tissue, which can start to look like a “horn” growing out of the back of the head!
Did you know . . .
• Kids may be spending up to 1400 hours per year in positions that cause tech neck.
• Even 15 degrees of forward tilt can triple the weight of the head and stress on the spine.
• Taking a break from mobile devices every 15 minutes can help reduce the likelihood of neck pain and headaches.
Spending time on your favourite devices doesn’t mean that you start growing horns tomorrow. However, it does give an example of how and why we need to be smart about our posture and positioning when using our mobile devices. Encouraging your children to take a break and stretch properly is one of the best (and easiest) ways to break the bad habits that can lead to Tech Neck. If you have any questions, just ask!
Growing Up with Good Posture
“Sit up straight!” We’ve all heard it (or said it) a million times, but many people aren’t aware that poor posture as a kid can create health challenges later in life. Rounded shoulders (scapular protrusion), swayback (lumbar hyperlordosis) and a hunched upper back (thoracic hyperkyphosis) are all postural imbalances that place a tremendous amount of stress on the spine.
The muscles supporting your spine consequently must work harder to support your body weight which can result in pain. These types of abnormal postures have been linked to everything from depression to decreases in energy and headaches to carpal tunnel syndrome, among others.
Why it Matters:
Poor posture is usually caused by what kids aren’t doing instead of what they are doing. If your child is on their phone or playing a game on their tablet, they are probably not moving and stretching very often.
One of the most important things you can do to encourage good posture is to set a timer and have them stretch and change positions every 15 minutes. This will allow their spine, muscles and joints to decompress and reset. By breaking the pattern of poor posture, you can help reduce the likelihood of your child experiencing pain now and down the road.
• Over 50% of children display the clinical signs of abnormal posture.
• Excessive weight and decreased physical activity are risk factors for postural issues.
• Setting aside daily times for physical play can help support stronger muscles and improved posture.
If your child is suffering from back pain, neck pain or headaches, postural issues may likely be part of the cause. Next time you have a chance try to evaluate the posture your child sits in while at home watching tv, playing on the phone or studying. Ask us for a quick posture screen for your child. We would be happy to let you know how they can improve their posture and reduce the risk of future aches and pains!
Author: Dr. Michael Bryant
Dr. Michael Bryant, doctor of chiropractic and member of the Alliance of Chiropractic (AOC) Singapore, graduated summa cum laude from Life University in Atlanta and received several distinctions, as well as completing additional coursework and NBCE certification in physiotherapy. Michael Bryant is the founder of Elite Spine Centers. Read more about Dr. Mike here.