Can Too Much Screen Time Affect Your Kids’ Posture?
Mobile devices mean that you don’t have to be tied to a desk to play games or connect to the internet, and neither do your kids. In fact, more and more kids are spending some portion of their day using mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and handheld games. But if you notice that your child is hunching over their device, you may start to wonder what all of these mobile devices are doing to your child’s posture.
What are Mobile Devices Doing to Your Child’s Back?
When your child tilts their head forward because they’re bent over a phone or tablet, the angle of the head puts additional strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck. They also tend to round their shoulders forward, which creates additional wear on the back and the upper part of the spine.
When children spend an extended amount of time in these positions, they can start to experience pain. Researchers have noted that doctors are seeing an increase in children coming in for treatments for back and neck pain, and that increase seems to correlate with the increase in mobile device use. What’s more, poor posture tends to breed more poor posture. In other words, if your child is slouching or hunching over a device, they may also be doing it when they’re sitting in class or at the dinner table. Poor posture can quickly become a habit.
What Are The Long-Term Effects?
When children develop a bad posture habit, the effects can be long-lasting. Back and neck pain is only one aspect of the problem. Poor posture can also cause the spinal cord to change shape, which can create chronic pain and affect balance.
Poor posture also has an effect on the rest of the body. Sitting for extended periods of time with poor posture compresses the digestive organs, which has a negative effect on the digestive system. Bad posture is also associated with varicose veins and an elevated risk of heart disease.
What Can You Do?
Making some changes to the way your child uses their mobile devices can help decrease their risk of developing poor posture and the problems that go along with it. Avoid allowing your child to use their tablet or phone on the bed or while laying on the couch. Instead, have them sit up straight. Invest in a holder for the device that allows your child to use it without hunching over. Be a good example and model the behaviour you want to see in your children.
Teach your kids to stop and stretch their arms above their heads regularly. This can help them reset their posture. Encourage your child to take frequent exercise breaks away from the digital devices as well. Breaking up the amount of time your child spends on their device will help prevent extended periods of slouching or hunching.
Bring them in for a free assessment with one of our Osteopathy team to check posture and receive helpful advice on strength and conditioning to do at home. Appointments available Monday – Friday around school hours.