As technology advances, it inevitably impacts how we live our lives. Online wikis and reference websites have made using a dictionary, and an encyclopedia set practically laughable. Streaming services and HD programming have brought us content and media of incredible variety and clarity. And where once making a phone call might have required a quarter and a better than average memory for phone numbers, we are now able to access virtually every family member and acquaintance we have ever known while seamlessly posting pictures and videos to communicate better. And while a couple of decades ago this would have seemed novel and unintuitive, millions of Americans now do this regularly every day. However, as our lives become more capable and convenient with each technological development, there is compelling evidence that we assume new risks and corresponding challenges. And not just the apparent perils of identity theft, cyberbullying, and even information overload. What many are beginning to realize is that continually using these devices is starting to take its toll on our bodies as well.
What is Tech Neck?
Our technology seems like it is always improving, but our means of using most devices have not seen a lot of change in the past decade or so. There is likely a screen, and we will stare at it for varying lengths of time, depending on the task. While this might sound like oversimplifying, the fact is a lot of our time is being spent staring at screens. By some estimates, American children are in front of screens almost ten times as much compared to 2011. And this has caused much youth to develop poor habits in posture and neck pain. While this was sometimes referred to as “text neck,” the term has since been expanded to tech neck as a means to describe the increasingly unnatural strain our society is placing on its necks from using all this tech. Adults are statistically no stranger to this. Anyone who has held down an office job for any extended period of time knows that sitting for hours hunched in front of a computer screen can take a considerable toll on your back and neck. The emerging worry is that these issues are beginning to appear sooner and sooner in our children’s development. While some may be quick to dismiss this discomfort as incidental to the times we live in, if left unattended these can gradually open ourselves up to the increased risk of arthritis, disc injury, nerve impingement, or even scoliosis. Fortunately, as our reliance on technology increases, studies have identified ways to condition ourselves to make sure our neck and back health keeps up.
A Few Ways to Manage and Prevent Tech Neck
Regular Activity: The first thing to consider when preventing tech neck is to make sure your child is getting enough daily activity. One of the tendencies of our modern tech is that using it is a sedentary activity. During this developmental period, it is crucial that your child gets into the habit of moving around regularly to offset all the tech they will have to use. It doesn’t have to be anything as intense as preparing for a marathon, but scheduling designated time for exercise will pay off immensely down the road. If you can participate and turn this exercise into a game you can play with them, this may help a lot in engaging them in the activity. Even something as casual as jumping jacks during commercials or ads is an excellent way to keep active while consuming media or doing schoolwork. The key is to make it an easy habit, so it becomes very natural, incorporating exercise with using tech.
Limit Screen Time: Depending on the tech and media consumption in your home, this might be a hard sell. Tech is so convenient it can seem unintuitive subjecting it to a limit. However, it is of extreme importance that boundaries are established early on to make sure that your child learns how to use tech in enough moderation to maintain their health and social skills. You may have heard the lamentations of the older generation saying that people nowadays just stare at their screens and do not converse with each other. While meaningful communication is certainly possible with our devices, there is increasing evidence that face to face conversation requires a skill set that today’s children might be missing out on. One of the problematic aspects of this one is that adulthood tends to involve tons of screentime without parental oversight to limit it. For this to work at all, if you would suggest to your children that screentime needs to be cut back on, you have to be willing to do so yourself. That’s not to say adults couldn’t stand to moderate their devices a little bit as well. A lot of people say that things like tech, social media, and our constant news cycle stress them out. And it has been reported that millions of people’s sleep cycles are being disrupted because lying awake at night to the glow of a cellphone is becoming increasingly pervasive. If we could all step away from our devices for a bit each day, we might find that our lives actually get more relaxing while still getting all our work done. Discuss with your children what might be appropriate times to put the phones and tablets down, be it mealtimes or after a set time at night.
Chiropractic Evaluation: This might seem a bit excessive, but it can’t be ignored how much tech has permeated our modern lifestyle. Habits that were not even in the realm of consideration twenty years ago are now just daily routine. The thing about tech neck is that we don’t even notice it is occurring. We do repetitive tasks and assume certain postures because our devices demand it, but our knowledge of how this is affecting our bodies may not have kept up. Chiropractic therapists will be able to offer counsel on how best to prevent tech neck in yourself and your children. If need be, they will also be able to perform a necessary adjustment if tech neck has already set in. If you need expert advice, consider consulting a chiropractor today.
In the times we live in, technology may very well be an inevitability. We use tech not just for leisure but also to keep pace with our professional and social obligations as well. If we accept that this is becoming our new normal, then we must take steps to ensure that our minds and bodies are adapting to the future as well. With some mindful preparation, all your tech won’t become a pain in your neck.