Children Using Mobiles
The Implications Of Children Using Mobile Devices
A day – an hour, or even a minute – doesn’t go by where we don’t think about using some form of mobile device whether it is a tablet, iPad or phone. This is no longer a phenomenon confined solely to adults but also to our children as well. Indeed you may have come home after a hard day’s work on many an occasion expecting a warm greeting to instead find your son or daughter with their head hunched over their device of choice, deaf to the world.
Such activity can normally be dismissed as a by-product of the times. What kid doesn’t have the latest, top-of-the-range device these days to match what their friends have? Underneath the shiny metal and plastic however a much darker issue lurks: the impact this can have on your child’s health and wellbeing.
By focusing on a single device for a continuous period of time your child risks serious damage to their posture in the long term. The human head on average is the same weight of a bowling ball. Imagine your head as that bowling ball. Imagine that bowling ball pulling your neck, shoulders and back down with it, adding extra strain and pressure to your body. This creates a very real and concerning issue for modern parents with even more modern kids.
Historically this would normally be associated with the typical office worker who spends long hours at the PC leaning over their keyboard. The dynamic has changed however with the advent of universally owned mobile devices. The more we use these devices the more our neck muscles find it increasingly difficult to stabilise our heads, resulting in severe head, neck, shoulder and back pain.
Recent research has highlighted that children who spend more than 30 minutes on their iPads without changing their posture are at increased risk of developing chronic neck and back pain later in life. It also suggests that hunching over devices from a young age can lead to bad habits which contribute to musculoskeletal issues in adulthood.
More cause for concern is children as young as 7 developing hunchbacks and curved spines because of the hours spent bending over smart phones and tablets. Instead of a normal forward curve, patients can be seen to have a backwards curve. This is a very serious issue which must be addressed to avoid future problems.
The benefits of a better posture cannot be understated. Indeed, it helps you breathe better, move more efficiently and increases endurance. Educating children on good posture is key to helping them avoid future problems. One way is to tell them to imagine a balloon attached to the top of their head pulling them gently upwards whilst keeping their feet flat on the ground.
Some more tips for healthy use of mobile devices include:
- Show children and young people how to sit comfortably and with good posture by keeping their two feet on the floor and back supported
- Place a beanbag or pillow on their lap so they can rest their arms and support their device in a comfortable position without the need to hunch forward
- Create a rule of a maximum of 30 minutes device usage before they are up and on the go again
- Schedule screen-free exercise times and encourage games and active play so that core strength muscles are used and strengthened
- Use a separate, synchronized keyboard when typing on a tablet with the screen propped up to avoid craning their neck
These are just some of the simple steps you can take combined with the daily recommended activity levels to help you prevent your children from developing postural related neck and back problems in later life.
At Healthsure we provide expert and up-to-date advice on the best course of action to take if you feel you or your child may be encountering any of the above problems. Our physiotherapists will also offer a thorough explanation on how to manage any pain at home as well as the best ways of preventing any future injuries.
When it comes to you or your loved ones’ physical health, don’t be unsure — be Healthsure.
Call: 0800 612 7111
Also published on Medium.