Tech-Neck: A real concern for children


Tech-neck, the term and the health condition, is derived from the onset of cervical spine degeneration resulting from the repeated stress of frequent forward head flexion while looking down at the screens of mobile devices for long periods of time. While tech-neck is certainly a new medical term, the condition is impacting children from a young age.

Today’s young children are spending increasing large amounts of time daily hunched over their handheld devices with their heads bent forward. Thefrequent forward flexion causes changes in the cervical spine curve, supporting ligaments,tendons, and musculature, as well as the bony segments, commonly causing postural change. Among the chief complaints associated with text-neckare pain felt in the neck, shoulder, back, arm, fingers, hands, wrists and elbows, as well as headaches and numbness and tingling of the upper extremities.

If left untreated,prolonged head forward posturecan lead to:

  • Flattening or reversal of normal Spinal Curvature
  • Decreased Muscle Strength
  • Onset of Spinal Degeneration
  • Spinal Misalignment
  • Disc Herniation
  • Disc Compression
  • Muscle Damage
  • Nerve Damage

Recommendations for prevention of tech-neck

  • Limit the amount of time and frequency that your child uses devices. If it has to be used for an extended period of time, make sure regular breaks are taken.

Rule of thumb for children: Take a 5-minute break for every 15 minutes you use your device.

  • Be aware of posture. If possible laying on stomach with head and neck then in extension instead of flexion as an alternative posture especially if watching a movie or something for prolonged period of time.
  • Use a tablet holder: There are many on the market, but all have the common goal of securing the tablet at a height that is designed to reduce the need to keep head bent down and forward. Keeping the device at eye-level will help to reduce neck pain and possible damage.
  • Listen and pay attention: If your child is experiencing pain in the neck, back, shoulders, hand…or eye-strain, pay attention. Those aches and pains have a source, and in this case, it may be technology. Overuse of handheld devices can also exacerbate an existing or old injury so be aware of what you are feeling. Don’t’ fall into the trap of, ‘it will go away’.
  • Seek help:If you or your child are experiencing discomfort, don’t wait, seek professional help. Taking action now could prevent serious health problems in the future. Prevention is the best cure.

The team at Embrace Life have a number of services available to address health issues associated with tech-neck. Call our team on 3491 6533 to find out how we can help.