The lovely Laura from Olive Chiropractic has written a fascinating article about the effects technology can have on our bodies. One of the main concerns of over-use of technology nowadays is the detrimental impact it can have on our mental health, which is obviously very important, but did you know that it can also have adverse effects on our neck and spine?
Laura founded her business as she was keen to share her enthusiasm for Chiropractic and enjoys having the opportunity to help people improve their health and wellbeing. She aims to help improve posture, create a body that adapts to stressful situations with ease and ultimately allows you to move well and live more! She works with people of all ages, so if you feel that ‘tech neck’ is starting to affect your children, Laura will be more than happy to help.
It has been found that the majority of children own a mobile phone or tablet by the age of seven! Whilst technology is remarkable and has improved our lives in many ways, we need to consider the impact it is having on our bodies.
Our posture is so important, particularly in young children, whose bodies are still growing and adapting. It is much easier to maintain good postural habits in children than it is to fix the problems they cause in adulthood.
The average human head weighs 10 pounds when sitting or standing normally. When we tilt our head forward we put more pressure on our spines. Did you know when you are looking at a phone or tablet, your neck could be holding double or triple that weight? If you are reading this on a phone or tablet you are probably doing this right now!
What’s more, we are spending increasing amounts of time on our devices. A report by Childwise last year found that, overall, children spend about three hours and 20 minutes each day on their phones/tablets.
The use of these devices influences our posture and body mechanics in unhealthy ways, which can contribute to neck, upper back, shoulder, arm pain or headaches. Poor posture can also affect other parts of the spine, such as the middle and lower back.
As the spine houses and protects our spinal cord, these alterations in body mechanics may also increase pressure on our nervous system. Everything we do is determined by what is happening in the nervous system. It is accountable for the way in which we experience senses – taste, smell, touch, sound and sight – our movements, and it also regulates the functioning of our organs, as it is the control centre of the body.
The problem is we just can’t avoid technology, and neither can our children, so it is important that we think about ways to reduce these stresses through the spine. Helping your child navigate the world of technology in a healthy way is really important. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Use technology correctly
Get your children to think about their posture whilst using their devices. Trying to reduce the forward tilt of the neck and holding their tablet or phone at eye level can help reduce the pressure placed on the neck.
Limit screen time
Helping your child find a balance between the online world and the real world is important. This might be easier said than done but it’s important to help them to find other activities to fill their time. Some devices have built-in timers/controls where you can put a limit on how long they can use them for.
Take regular breaks
Ensuring your child is not using their device for extended times will help to limit the stresses placed on their spine and body. Make sure they take regular breaks to get their body moving – ideally every 20-30 minutes – as this will also help to reduce the strain on their neck.
Because so many of our children (and ourselves) are spending more time sitting, particularly with phones or tablets, it is important that we counteract this with movement. Getting out for a walk/run or play around in the park will help to increase circulation and help to reduce the sedentary stresses.
Adding in some stretching in the morning or during the day will help them to stay flexible and can help take the strain and stress off the spine. In the UK it is recommended that kids aged 5-15 years get 60 minutes of activity throughout the day. This can be short bursts, but some of this should have an impact (e.g. running) for healthy bones and get them out of breath for a healthy cardiovascular system.
See a chiropractor
If you are concerned about anything, such as your child’s posture, or if they are getting any aches and pains then get your child checked. Remember, your child can’t avoid technology completely so make sure they are starting with a solid foundation of good spinal health. Chiropractic can help children thrive as they grow from child to adult.