These days, technology is simply a part of everyday life. It seems like just about everyone has a smart phone or a tablet, and of course there are also desktop computers in almost every household, and sometimes laptops as well. Oh and let’s not forget gaming consoles like X-box and Wii – favorites amongst the younger set. And while all this technology is designed to not only provide entertainment, but to make our lives easier, there is a surprising side effect that is being increasingly noted: the negative effects the use of technology is having on children and teens.
As discussed in other articles, the use of technology definitely has negative side effects in adults. People who use technology at work are highly likely to suffer from posture issues, neck, and back pain. Luckily, adults are usually able to recognize when there is a problem, and take the necessary steps to reduce risk and ease the symptoms caused by hunkering over a desk all day.
It’s not quite as simple for children and teens. There’s no question that today’s technology offers many benefits – from Pre-K to graduation, today’s children are introduced to technology right from the get-go. Devices such as laptops and tablets are useful in teaching and learning, and are particularly helpful for children with certain disabilities. So what’s the problem?
Let’s take a look at the downside to growing up in a digital world…
Have Social Graces Been Replaced?
Before we even get into the physical impact all this technology is having on our children, let’s get the social impact out of the way. We all know that in this day and age, social media has taken over the world! Facebook, Twitter, you name it, there’s a social media tool that makes it possible to interact with people all around the world, without ever leaving the comfort of our own room. Sounds great right? The problem is, the more we use technology, the more reliant we become, to the point of laziness in some cases, a disregard for good old fashioned communication and physical activity in others.
There’s a new syndrome happening all around us – it’s called the “Hunch”. Due to the increase in using devices that generally require the user to look downward at the device, the posture of the user begins to suffer. The main culprits for children and teens are endless texting, and hours spent playing video games.
That’s not to say that adults don’t also suffer from the hunch, they most definitely do. The difference is, most adults know when to ‘give it a rest’ and take corrective measures. And as well, most adults are not as likely to spend hours on end playing a video game, or texting a lifetime’s worth of conversations back and forth on a tiny smartphone.
The fact is, chiropractors are reporting an increase in the number of young patients they see in their clinics, who suffer from a variety of symptoms including neck pain, back pain, and poor posture. Diagnosis? The hunch!
Let’s take a closer look at the culprits before we discuss treatment and lifestyle changes that will be necessary to undo the damages caused by the hunch.
These days, texting is the preferred communication method of choice amongst teens. Look around you on the street, in the mall, you will see droves of kids with their heads down, furiously texting away. Not only does this cause problems with the neck and posture, there have been many reported cases of kid walking headlong into things like walls and street signs, simply because they were not paying attention to where they were going. Walking and texting – it’s dangerous!
Another cause of poor posture and the hunch are gaming consoles. X-box, Wii, and all the others – lead to kids spending hours and hours looking down at the controller device used to play the games. This endless gaming has been linked to many negative occurrences that include bad posture, carpal tunnel syndrome, and social disorders.
While we can’t fault our kids for using technology to study and do their schoolwork, if you combine the amount of time spent looking down at other devices (phones, game consoles, tablets etc.) then add in the amount of time spent using technology to handle their school work, the hunch gets worse and worse.
So what can we do to help our children?
Knowing the Limits
As parents, it’s up to us to impose limits on almost every aspect of our kid’s lives. Wow, don’t we sound tyrannical! But our children will thank us as they get older, for helping to prevent issues that could plague them for the rest of their lives. One of the best things we can do (and this one will hurt more now than later) is to place limits on our kid’s use of technology.
It’s OK to use devices in moderation, but if your child is spending hours and hours gaming and texting, it’s time to have a talk and explain the dangers that are occurring, in many cases, without them even realizing it. Neck and back pain are no walk in the park – they are serious issues that are preventable. So talk to your kids, and come up with a technology schedule that works for everyone. And if they ask to have the conversation over text, just say no!
As mentioned, chiropractors are seeing a huge increase in the number of young patients seeking treatment for neck and back pain as well as symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. If you suspect that your child is suffering from any of these issues, it’s important to address them as soon as possible and correct posture issues while your child is still growing and developing.
At Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, our chiropractors can help correct issues with your child’s posture, address pain issues, and provide education on how to prevent these issues from occurring in the future.