- Posted by Christine
- On January 24, 2021
As technology advances the number of device related injuries continue to rise, especially in children. As many of us know, the use mobile devices and the amount of time utilizing devices has increased dramatically. One of the issues with mobile device use is the posture that is adapted, which can cause movement dysfunction and pain.
A survey conducted by MediaSmart in 2014 indicated that 25% of kids, 9-10 years old have their own cell phone. ParticipACTION reports that children (in 2015) spent, on average, 7.5 hours/day in front of a screen. This is a significant amount of time, and that is even before a year of virtual classes! Each year these numbers rise and the impact on our children’s health is evident.
Habitually people look down to use their mobile device, which causes a great deal of stress on the neck and upper back. Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, the chief spine surgeon of New York Spine Surgery and Rehab Medicine assessed the amount of force placed on the neck in certain positions and angles (see picture). Given the amount of pull generated by even a slight tip forward, there is no doubt that if this trend continues mobile device users will suffer long term effects.
In clinic we are noticing children are suffering from several postural issues, which I feel are partly related to this prolonged head down position. The muscles that are responsible for holding our head upright are at such a mechanical disadvantage in this position. These muscles therefore fatigue quicker and other compensatory muscles are then used. As children’s bodies accommodate and compensate over time, they develop movement problems. Typically, the upper back becomes fixated in a forward flexed posture and it is difficult to extend back; the shoulders are rolled forward due to the tightness throughout the front chest musculature and the head is pushed forward. This type of posture requires a significant amount of energy to complete even basic tasks. Even more of a concern is when these children become active in sport. When they lack a solid foundation and then you add the force, volume and load that occurs during sport, it is a recipe for injury. Imagine a child trying to throw a baseball when they are unable to rotate their upper body and extend their arm properly. Or perhaps they try swimming, and the stability of their shoulder girdle is non-existent because of the poor mechanics of their forward rolled shoulder. There are many issues caused by poor posture, and many of our postural habits are becoming worse!
How do we fix our children’s future?
Bring your device to you! Prop your tablet up or bring your cell phone up higher, so that you can maintain good head position. This will decrease the force placed through your neck and upper back. This is especially important right now as many kids/students are spending even more time plugged in due to online schooling. Take a look at the How to Set up and Ergonomic Home Office article for more tips.
Get outside! Decrease the amount of screen time your kids have by getting them outside and away from the screens!
Sit up tall, y’all! Work on your own posture and your children will learn to mimic that posture. Imagine a string at the top of your head pulling upwards and lengthening your spine.