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Technology May Be Harming More Than Your Child’s Posture

As remote learn­ing kicks off the school year, con­sid­er help­ing your child fix their posture.

Tech­nol­o­gy is every­where — smart­phones, tablets, lap­tops, video games, and now remote learn­ing — and kids, espe­cial­ly teens, are using these devices more than ever. In fact, a recent sur­vey found that 45 per­cent of teens (13−17) report that they’re online almost con­stant­ly, while an addi­tion­al 44 per­cent report they’re online sev­er­al times a day. That’s a tremen­dous amount of screen time that con­tin­ues to increase every year, espe­cial­ly now with most school dis­tricts begin­ning the 2020 school year with e‑learning.

Take a moment to pic­ture your child as they use their phone or lap­top. You’re like­ly envi­sion­ing your child’s slumped shoul­ders, round­ed back and for­ward-pro­trud­ing neck, reclin­ing in a chair or lying on their bed. It’s an image many par­ents share, and many tell their kids to sit up straight.” How­ev­er, the impact of bad pos­ture may reach beyond just a slouched appearance.

Bad pos­ture means more for chil­dren and teens than hav­ing a pain in the neck.”

It’s no sur­prise that neck pain from tech usage is a com­mon com­plaint, as a for­ward-thrust­ing head puts addi­tion­al strain on mus­cles and lig­a­ments of the neck. Neck pain is just one of a vari­ety of med­ical issues relat­ed to bad pos­ture that may have a sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive impact on health. It’s espe­cial­ly impor­tant to cor­rect bad pos­ture in chil­dren and teens as their bod­ies may, over time, adapt to mal-posi­tion and poor posture.

With­out prop­er skele­tal form, it may be dif­fi­cult for the body to per­form at peak func­tion. Some health risks of pro­longed bad pos­ture include:

Pos­tur­al Kyphosis

Mus­cles and bones get used to being hunched over, lead­ing to a round­ed back and shoul­ders. Exer­cis­ing and strength­en­ing back mus­cles can help bet­ter sup­port the spine; how­ev­er some chil­dren may need phys­i­cal ther­a­py to help cor­rect pos­tur­al kyphosis.

Poor bal­ance

Long term changes to the spine can impact motor skills and affect balance.

Fatigue

Slouch­ing reduces lung capac­i­ty and depth of res­pi­ra­tion, which may increase fatigue because the body isn’t get­ting the full amount of oxy­gen need­ed to func­tion properly.

Body pains

Neck, back and joint pain, as well as headaches, are com­mon phys­i­cal ail­ments result­ing from bad posture.

Decreased self-esteem

Slumped pos­ture is asso­ci­at­ed with a lack of self-con­fi­dence and exhibit­ing neg­a­tive moods and can even be an indi­ca­tor of depres­sion. Con­verse­ly, tall pos­ture is direct­ly relat­ed to high­er self-esteem, ele­vat­ed moods and increased stamina.

What can you do?

The good news is that chil­dren can improve their pos­ture — it may just take some time to over­come their bad pos­tur­al habits:

Prac­tice makes perfect

Teach your child or teen cor­rect pos­ture while using tech devices, help­ing them get their bod­ies into cor­rect posi­tion. You may even want to show them before and after pic­tures so they can see and bet­ter under­stand the difference.

Stand up

As your child or teen spends a lot of time on a lap­top or tablet for e‑learning, con­sid­er using a stand-up desk to reduce strain on their neck and back, min­i­miz­ing the dan­gers of pro­longed sit­ting. If a stand-up desk isn’t an option, ensure the mon­i­tor, chair, and desk are set cor­rect­ly to the height of your child.

Eye lev­el

Bring phones and tablets up to eye lev­el to read, or prop on a table to engage cor­rect posture.

Stretch out

Encour­age your child to stand up every 20 to 30 min­utes to stretch and exer­cise their neck and shoul­ders. Deep breath­ing exer­cis­es are also beneficial.

Take a break

Shut down the elec­tron­ics and engage in more active move­ment — go for a walk, run around and play. There are also parental con­trol apps that sched­ule alerts and time lim­its for no tech time”.

Lis­ten to your child’s body

If your child is com­plain­ing of pain, espe­cial­ly in the neck, between the shoul­der blades or in the arms, it may be indica­tive of a more seri­ous health issue. Con­sult with your physi­cian to rule out sig­nif­i­cant health issues aris­ing from bad posture.

If your child or teen is com­plain­ing of pain, or you are con­cerned about their pos­ture, vis­it their pedi­a­tri­cian or fam­i­ly physi­cian as a first step to eval­u­ate their spine and pos­ture. Depend­ing on their find­ings, the doc­tor may rec­om­mend your child see a pedi­atric orthopaedist for a com­pre­hen­sive exam and to cre­ate a plan to cor­rect your child’s posture.

Click here for more infor­ma­tion or call 1−630−790−1872 to sched­ule an appoint­ment with one of our pedi­atric orthopaedists.

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