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“Text Neck”, or Why You Should Be Watching Your Child’s Posture

These days it’s not uncommon to see children walking around with a smartphone or tablet in hand, head tilted downwards as they absentmindedly watch bright colors flash across the screen. What is more uncommon is being knowledgeable on the risks that are associated with elongated screen time, one of the more common risks being “Text Neck”, a term coined by chiropractor Dr. DL Fishman. Text Neck, which is caused by the misalignment of the spine most commonly seen when tilting the head down to use a smartphone or tablet, can result in numerous negative consequences such as neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, and muscular weakness. With smartphones and tablets growing ever more popular, risks associated with smartphone and tablet use are also rapidly on the rise.

So how can you stop this? The main (and most effective) answer is to reduce screen time over all. Have allotted screen time throughout the day for younger children so that they do not have constant access to a screen and instead promote healthier playtime habits such as sports, arts and crafts, or imaginative play which helps promote creative thinking. For older children who may have access to a phone 24/7, try teaching them healthier posture while using the phone, such as holding the screen closer to eye level rather than lower down. One of the most important things parents can do is to lead by example, keeping good posture themselves and correcting bad posture in children whenever necessary. Taking frequent breaks from screens and stretching your neck/back are also crucial in reducing these symptoms.

While all these tips and tricks do play a large part in reducing these symptoms and easing neck pain, children are prone to falling back into old routines very quickly. One way to combat this is a change of environment. A change in environment can rewire the brain if new habits are formed around this new environment. For example, replacing a standard desk with a height adjustable desk could significantly reduce strain on both the neck and back. Utilizing a height adjustable desk with a book/tablet holder allows parents to adjust the height of the desk so that the screen meets the child’s eye level, eliminating the need for the child to tilt their neck in order to look at a screen on a flat surface. The same goes for computer monitors – simply place the monitor on the desk and adjust the desk and chair so the monitor is at eye level. Ergonomically designed furniture is also beneficial in helping your child develop good posture with minimal to no effort. Something as simple as that could improve your child’s posture for years to come – something that they will be sure to thank you for in the future!

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