Does Your Child Suffer from Tech Neck?
Parents have always reminded their children to sit up straight, but it's an exhortation that's never been more relevant. More and more, children are going to local G.Ps for painful shoulders, necks and backs; conditions that are aggravated by the way they hold their phones each day for long periods. The condition even has a modern name: tech neck.
Tech neck is actually a phenomenon first observed in adults. At a normal position, where a person looks straight ahead, the neck only takes about ten pounds of pressure. As you bend your neck for phone viewing, however, the amount of pressure increases. At a sixty-degree angle, the neck puts up with about sixty pounds of pressure. It's a great deal of unnecessary stress on the neck and spine.
Children under the age of eight, on average, use their phones for about forty-five minutes a day, which is three times what it was only four years ago. With television taken into account, screen time rises to more than two hours a day. This is about twice what experts believe should be acceptable for young children. It is this consistent attachment to screens that is responsible for the text neck condition.
What tech neck does to your spine
Tech neck is mostly about abusing your neck muscles. Incidentally, it also results in abuse to the body in another way. On either side of the spinal column are strong muscles called the erector muscles. They offer support to the core of the spine. If you don't actively use those muscles while you sit, they begin to lose strength over time. Then, the forces that act on your spine have no choice but to distribute in an abnormal way. Over time, this causes pain.
Teach your children to hold their phone the right way
While restricting screen time is the best way to help your children, you can also teach them a few good habits to do with holding their phone. It's important that your children learn to hold their phone high up, at eye level. There won't be a need to bend the neck at a steep angle this way. It can also help ease pressure on the neck to place the phone on a table when used.
It's important to teach children to give themselves breaks during long sessions using their phone. Children can easily bend their necks for thirty minutes at a time when using their phones. It's a good idea to set timers to remind them to change position once every ten minutes or so.
Does tech neck cause permanent damage?
Some kinds of repetitive motion do cause permanent harm. Young gymnasts, for instance, can develop malformed wrist bones by training to walk on their hands. At this time, there isn't enough research into how it can affect skeletal growth in the long term to hold stiff postures in abnormal ways while using a phone. It's best to stay the safe side, however, and listen to what your body tells you. It isn't a good idea to continue in a posture if there is pain.