Did you know, according to researchers at the University of Iowa, 90 percent of 2-year-olds are already using tablets and smartphones to some extent? Most of us see it for ourselves, the toddlers’ faces reflecting the glow of colorful cartoon characters singing “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Itsy-Bitsy Spider.”
By the time they’re in their teens, electronics seem permanently secured to the end of their arms. They feel connected; the Kaiser Foundation says they’re using four to five times the recommended amount of technology. Then comes adulthood, where 86 percent of us sit all day, mostly staring into a computer screen. It’s no wonder that organizations such as the American Heart Association are telling parents to limit their children’s electronic time to two hours a day.
While electronics are an important part of our lives now, the number of vehicle accidents caused by texting is a horrific reminder of the addiction we’re introducing to our young. Doctors of chiropractic are no strangers to its effect, either, as they see tech neck showing up in younger patients. Watch for neck pain, headaches, numbness in your fingers and increasingly poor posture – all are tell-tale signs of the screen-time strain on your neck.
Even better, take these precautions so you’ll never have it in the first place:
• Get a tablet holder and set it at eye level, reducing the inclination to move your head forward as you surf the internet. Looking down at a cellphone in your hands can put up to 60 pounds of pressure on your neck; try to hold it at eye-level as well.
• Sit in a chair with a headrest (or one high enough in the back to touch your head) and, practicing good posture, rest the back of your head against it. If you’ve made the necessary changes to your electronics’ positions, this should be comfortable, especially if you’re tied to the screen for hours at a time.
• Take an occasional break, which is good for eyes as well as the neck. And at your desk, exercise the muscles around your shoulders and neck. Drop your chin to your chest and then raise it to the ceiling, repeating the motion several times. Raise your arms and head to the ceiling and then relax before doing it again. Slowly move your shoulders back, as if you’re trying to make your shoulder blades meet behind you. All will help the muscles remain flexible, which is key to avoiding tech neck.
• If you start feeling the strain – neck pain, headaches, numbness in your hands and bad posture – call your local doctor of chiropractic for drug-free, non-surgical relief. You’ll learn even more ways to avoid tech neck, beginning with preventative adjustments that keep your whole body in balance. And while you’re at it, teach your kids what you’ve learned, if only by example!