What is “Text Neck” and How Can You Prevent Your Kids from Having it?
In today’s modern world, people spend a lot of time on their phones. This is due to the fact that almost everything can now be accessed in a touch of a button – from booking tickets, paying bills, shopping, ordering food, groceries, and you name it the mobile phone has it. We just can’t get the thing out of our sight as it’s considered a necessity nowadays, not only for communication but as well as entertainment.
The same goes for our kids. This generation has its eyes always glued on screens as it’s ingrained in every part of their lives – from education to socialization. Usually, there won’t be so much noise when they’re on their gadgets – that is, until they start to experience the symptoms of what is being referred to as “Text Neck”.
So, what is a Text Neck?
It was the US Chiropractor, DL Fishman, who coined the modern-day term “Text Neck” to describe repeated stress injury and pain in the neck resulting from excessive watching or texting on handheld devices for a long period of time. The term is also called “Turtle Neck Posture” or “Anterior Head Syndrome.”
According to Dr. Chris Tomshack, founder, and CEO of HealthSource, “The weight of the human head is 10 to 11 pounds, but flexed forward, that’s leveraged to 50 to 60 pounds of pressure. Our necks are not big enough to handle that much pressure continuously for any significant amount of time. After a while, the muscles that surround your neck get strained.”
How would you know if your child is already experiencing Text Neck?
- Pain – It can be in one spot and can be stabbing or intense or it may be a general achiness or soreness that covers a broader region such as spanning from the bottom of the neck and into the shoulders.
- Radiating pain – can often be radiation of pain into the shoulders and arms.
- Muscular Weaknesses
- Headache – Can occur with a stiff neck. Muscles at the base of the neck could go into spasm and become painful, or pain could also be referred from the neck up into the head. Excessive amounts of time looking at screens, regardless of posture, may also increase the risk for eyestrain and headache.
- Stiff Neck – Usually a result of a strain or sprain and is characterized by soreness and the difficulty moving the neck, especially when trying to move the head to the side. This can be accompanied by shoulder or arm pain, headache and neck pain.
Prevention is better than cure, they say. Here are some tips you can do to keep your child from experiencing it.
1. Practice Good Posture – It is amazing to know how a small device can offer a huge variety of entertainment that will make you and your kids forget about time and not notice that you have been slouching in the same position for hours on end, which is an absolute recipe for disaster. Always remind your kids to sit up straight, keep their head, neck, and shoulder in a neutral position, and when using the phone, hold it at eye level and refrain from looking down. If they do look down, be sure that they look down with eyes, not the head. This is to avoid putting too much pressure on the bones, joints, discs, muscles and most importantly the nerves.
2. Take a break – Too much of something is indeed bad enough including the excessive use of phones. Letting your kids take a break from using their phones may really be challenging especially if being on the phone all the time has already become a habit that’s hard for them or even you to break. But if you come to think of it, this is the most effective way to prevent them from experiencing symptoms as this, in the first place is the cause. And you might as well check these techniques in encouraging them to put down their gadgets once and for all.
- Spend some family time – Coming up with activities that you as a family can enjoy would really help. It doesn’t matter if you prefer playing monopoly or doing sports that you like – swimming, baseball, walking or anything that would help you bond while diverting their attention
- Set Rules – Set rules and be firm about it even when your kids show tantrums. It will only be difficult at first but once they realize that they don’t have a choice because rule is rule, they will just eventually follow it.
- Act as a role model – Walk the talk. You can’t force your kids to take a break from using their phone if you are not doing it yourself. The best way to encourage them is to model the behavior.
3. Arch and Stretch and Practice Neck Exercises – Neck and shoulder rolls can release the tension caused by bending down while using your gadget. Getting up and walking every hour can help in avoiding the strain on your back and neck. Avoid prolonged static postures and holding devices for a long duration. Finally, practice standing a foot away from the way, put your hands on the wall, lean your chest toward the wall and look up towards the sky by extending your neck. Hold for 30 seconds and do several times throughout the day.
The bottom line is, you must know how to set limits and be firm with it, especially if it involves your kids. You want them to have fun without compromising their health, which is the goal of every parent.
Text Neck Symptoms and Diagnosis
Text Neck Treatment and Prevention