As students worldwide return to school, it appears this year as though many will be e-learning for hours each day on their digital devices. While our devices can be fantastic tools for entertainment and education, the postural effects are something all parents should be aware of. For many students, e-learning may increase in neck, mid-back, and low back pain.
Why it Matters:
Spending 6 or more hours each day on a digital device
can profoundly affect your mental, social, and physical
health. Prolonged periods looking at a phone, tablet, or computer can result in “Tech Neck Syndrome.” This forward head posture can place a tremendous amount of stress on the neck (cervical spine) and lead to headaches, back pain, neck pain, and more.
Did you know…
- It’s estimated that 50.3% of school-aged children present with posture disorders.
- A surprising 41.6% of children experience back pain from prolonged sitting.
- Low back pain is the 3rd most common form of pain that interferes with schoolwork.
- First Step: Set up your child’s learning space to protect their spine and reduce stress on their musculoskeletal system. Select a chair that allows them to sit upright, with a 90 angle at the hips. If the chair is to large and does not allow their knees to clear the edge of the chair, put a pillow behind their back. In addition, use a foot stool if they cannot reach the floor comfortably. the top of the monitor should be at eye level. This will prevent your child from spending excessive amount of time looking down, causing excess stress on the spine and muscles of the neck and shoulders.
Making it a habit to look up (literally!) throughout the day is a great first step in significantly reducing the effects of “Tech Neck”. Try this: pull your chin back, open your arms out wide, and look up to the ceiling and stretch at least once every 60 minutes to help reset your posture and body position.
Children who spend multiple hours staring at digital devices are at
risk of developing vision related problems. Visible blue light, the
light that is emitted by our electronic devices, has the shortest
wave length on the visible light spectrum and the highest energy. Virtually all visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina. The fact that blue light penetrates all the way to the retina is important because laboratory studies have shown that too much exposure to blue light can damage light-sensitive cells in the retina. This can cause changes such as digital eye strain and characteristics resembling those of macular degeneration, which can lead to permanent vision loss.
According to a recent National Eye Institute-funded study, children’s eyes absorb more blue light than adults’ from digital device screens. Research has shown that wearing lenses that block blue light, increases contrast significantly, therefore reducing eye strain while using digital devices for an extended period of time.
Another thing you can do to reduce your child’s risk of digital eye strain, is to get them to follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your screen and look at something that is at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This simple practice can help reduce eye strain and fatigue.
Remember, if your child is spending every day at their compute, schedule a check-up with us to provide you with a full posture and movement-based assessment so we can identify any potential issues and work together to come up with a plan to reduce their chance of dealing with the effects of “Tech Neck Syndrome.”
Back Pain in School Children. Dynamic Chiropractic. 1995.