One of life’s greatest difficulties is keeping your children calm and entertained for substantial periods of time. In the past, the preferred method was to enrol your child in sports or other physical activities with the added benefits of healthy habits and increased self-esteem being engrained from a young age. However these days, you’re more likely to see children entertained on a little screen at the rink while their parents are watching the Shelburne Muskies on the ice.
Over the past generation, the increase in technology has led to many parents using tablets, smart phones, computers and television as a way to relax and even educate their children. While it’s certainly becoming the entertainment form of choice for your little one’s, new research is showing that children who spend extended periods of time on their digital devices, such as Ipads, can suffer from chronic neck and back pain later in life. The behaviour’s children develop early in life can cause musculoskeletal issues later on in life. In response to my sister’s complaints that my nephew’s spine is turning into a pretzel due to his posture while on his iPad, Shelburne Family Chiropractic is here with a few tips on how to ensure your child surf’s the web as safely as physically possible.
Children are generally restless… This is a good thing!
Sitting in one position for a lengthy period of time is a great way to injure muscles, tendons and joints. . Our bodies are meant to keep moving and not frozen in one position staring at a screen for hours on end. To avoid neck and back tension, muscles and tendons need a break. While children’s muscles tend to be much more loose than their parents, it is still important to ensure that they do not maintain the same posture for too lengthy a period of time. Encourage them to listen to their body and move around when they feel uncomfortable. Posture breaks every 20-30 minutes are highly recommended.
2. Awkward body positions lead to awkward posture.
Many children (and adults) find it easy to slouch into their favourite comfy chair and stare at that iphone propped into their laps. This leads to increased flexion of the neck and upper-back and an unnatural angle that the spine is not meant to sustain. Encourage your children to hold their tablet at eye level, or at 60 degrees when set on a flat table. Even better, get a case with a built in stand that allows for positioning of the screen at multiple viewing levels. Keeping a neutral spine at all times is vital to pain-free and healthy growth in a child.
3. The 90-90-90 rule is in full effect!
Having a keyboard attached to your child’s mobile device is another method of teaching proper posture techniques. When seated, encourage your child to keep their elbows bent at about 90 degrees when using a keyboard, while sitting in a comfortable, upright position with their hips approximately at 90 degrees with their feet resting flat on the floor or on a footrest. This position will help reduce back strain and tension, and also make you look like a champion of parenting in the Shelburne community when your child brings this posture to school!
Luckily for those parents who just can’t seem to convince their children that exercise is better than mobile device stimulation, some video games have been proven to be a good source of physical activity. Consider downloading an app that incorporates movement, such as Heads Up or invest in a Wii Fit for the whole family.
Ipad neck is real, and as a chiropractor, I am privy to the severe impact that poor positioning can have on the body with prolonged use of mobile devices. Follow these tips to help teach the children of Shelburne, Ontario & Dufferin County proper body mechanics before their positioning becomes a pain in the neck!
~Dr. Magder, Shelburne Family Chiropractic