“You can absolutely fix tech neck with just a few simple habits.”
In our connected world, electronic devices are everywhere. We use them for work, play, communication, entertainment, schoolwork, and a dozen other things essential to modern life. Smartphones and tablets are fantastic inventions, but they can come with side effects. Among the sneakiest of these is “tech neck,” which is a term describing the down-and-forward posture we tend to adopt when scrolling our phones or other devices.
While we as adults can take steps to prevent this, our kids are a different story. They need our help. So read on to discover how to prevent tech neck in your children.
This article comes to you from Juneau’s most trusted chiropractor, in an effort to tell you just what you can do to help your kiddos maintain a healthy posture. Of course, one of the options on this list is to visit a chiropractor for help, but it’s best to try some other tactics first. If you can get your kids into the helpful habits below, you won’t need a chiropractor!
How Tech Neck Can Affect Your Kids (And You)
Before we dive into actionable tips to help your kids prevent tech neck, it’s important for you to understand what can happen if your child’s posture continues to worsen (or doesn’t get any better). First off, tech neck has also been called “text neck” and “nerd neck” in some circles.
We’ll stick to calling it tech neck for this article, but it’s all the same thing: rounded shoulders, forward head posture, and unnaturally rounded upper back and neck.
Aside from how this posture looks, it can cause serious long-term problems, such as:
- Muscle Pain
- Neck Pain
- Nerve Issues
- Increased Risk of Arthritis in Adulthood (as early as 20 years)
- Disc Problems
So, it’s important to teach your kids good habits as soon as they start using handheld devices. That said, it’s never too late to instill those habits. You can absolutely fix tech neck with just a few simple habits.
Encourage (and Schedule) Physical Activity
Many of us grown folks like to say that the kids today are much different than when we were young. It’s true that they have more technology at their fingertips. Movies, TV shows, games, social media, cat videos; there’s a wealth of entertainment on the internet. But really, kids are still the same. They still enjoy physical activity, whether it’s running around using sticks as swords in an imagined medieval landscape, or organized sports like baseball, basketball, or football.
So do what you can to encourage that physical activity. Playing with other kids is good for socialization, muscle building, coordination, and goal setting. Plus, it gets them away from the screen and allows them to move their bodies around. You can manage this in a couple of ways.
- Sign your kids up for sports they are interested in.
- Step outside to shoot hoops or play catch with them.
- Mandate a certain number of minutes of physical activity before screen time.
- Invest in playground equipment for younger kids and sports equipment for older kids.
Remind Your Kids to Keep Their Devices at Eye Level
There’s zero chance of eliminating screen time altogether. Even if you wanted to, it wouldn’t be possible with how much we rely on phones to communicate and gather information. However, you can encourage good habits. Essentially, getting rid of tech neck comes down to one simple guideline: keep devices at eye level.
- Remind your child to prop his or her phone or tablet up so they don’t have to look down at it. They can do this with a pillow, a knee, or a hand under their elbow.
- Whenever it is appropriate, have them use a desktop or laptop with the screen situated at eye-level.
- If you’re lounging at home, offer to hold the phone or tablet while you watch or play together. You can then hold it up at the appropriate height.
Incorporating even five or ten minutes of stretching into your normal routine can help posture and tech neck. When the muscles are limbered and stretched, it’s easier for us (and our kids) to maintain a good posture throughout the day. Here are a couple of simple yoga stretches you can do with your kids.
- Downward Dog
- Upward Dog
- Cobra Pose
- Locust Pose
- Bridge Pose
- Chin Tucks
Doing a few of these stretches either in the morning or before bed can help you and your children with tech neck.
Overall Posture Tips
The problem isn’t only with technology. In fact, reading a book and hunching over homework both have the same effect of drawing the head forward and down while curving the shoulders in. While it’s not the end of the world if your children don’t practice the perfect posture all the time, it is an issue if they stay in that hunched posture for long periods.
It’s a good idea to encourage breaks during homework or reading time, as well as during screen time. Get up with your kid and walk around. Roll the shoulders a little bit. Play with the dog. Run around and play for a few minutes before getting back to work.
Put a Cap on Screen Time
Perhaps the most obvious (and hardest) thing to do is limit screen time. But limiting screen time has other benefits that go beyond poor posture. Too much time on a screen can strain the eyes, interrupt sleep cycles, and prevent proper exercise and socialization.
Setting the boundaries for screen time can be tough, especially for tweens and teens. You’ve got to pick well the times you choose to discuss it with your kids. For tips on how to talk to your kids about screen time, visit this article. Every family is different, and you’ll have to find the best way to set some ground rules with your kids.
Be a Role Model
It may not seem like it, but our kids do take note of what we do, what we say, and how we act. So if you or your partner suffer from tech neck, you could be fighting an uphill battle. On the other hand, if your kids see you practicing proper posture, holding the phone up at eye level, and taking frequent breaks, it will go a long way in getting them to do the same.
There’s not much you can do about tech neck when your children are at school or out of the house, so correcting these bad habits and encouraging proper posture starts at home with you and your partner as the role models.
Visit a Chiropractor
Lastly, if you feel that you need some help correcting you or your child’s tech neck, you can always consult a chiropractor. Doctors of chiropractic deal with spinal issues all the time and can give you the assistance you need to effectively handle tech neck. Among the natural and safe techniques chiropractors use are:
- Spinal Alignment
- Tailored Exercises
- Stretching and Tension Relief
- Lifestyle Tips
Chiropractic care has been shown to effectively help those suffering from tech neck. This, combined with efforts at home, can help you ward off the negative effects that may be waiting down the road for those with tech neck.
Article by: Dr. Brent Wells, D.C
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of Alaskan patients from different health problems through chiropractic care, physical rehab therapy, and massage therapy. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.