Teenagers, technology, and terrible posture.

Posted February 29th, 2024

Today’s teenagers are experiencing more back and neck problems, with technology use often cited as a contributing factor.

‚ÄúTech neck” refers to the neck pain and strain that result from prolonged use of smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices due to poor posture. Teenagers are particularly susceptible to tech neck. They spend long hours with bad posture, hunched over smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other digital devices, texting, gaming, and browsing social media.

Teenagers and technology are a perfect storm for a lifetime of back and neck pain. Contributing factors include:

  • Excessive screen time and device use for schoolwork, socializing, or entertainment leads to muscle fatigue and neck, shoulders, and back stiffness.
  • A Sedentary lifestyle weakens the muscles supporting the spine and contributes to back problems.
  • Heavy backpacks filled with textbooks and laptops strain the back muscles and spine.
  • Poor ergonomics of device use, including holding devices at improper angles or looking down at screens for extended periods, strains the neck muscles, and places undue stress on the cervical spine.
  • Lack of awareness of the importance of maintaining good posture while using devices.

Technology brings many benefits, but teenagers must be mindful of their device use habits and prioritize physical well-being. Parents and caregivers can encourage breaks from screens, promote good posture, incorporate regular physical activity, and help arrange ergonomic solutions for their teens. To help alleviate and prevent back problems in teenagers:

  • Encourage good posture by reminding teenagers to sit up straight and hold devices at eye level to reduce strain on the neck and back.
  • Limit screen time by encouraging breaks from devices and promoting physical activity to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting.
  • Ergonomic setups promote better posture while using technology. Teach teenagers about the importance of ergonomics and how to set up their workspaces and use devices to promote good posture.
  • Teach proper backpack use, including wearing both straps on and an even distribution of weight.
  • Encourage strengthening exercises for the core and back muscles to provide better support for the spine.
  • Encourage breaks from devices to stretch and change positions.
  • Get a checkup for persistent or worsening back or neck complaints from a physical therapist, chiropractor, or healthcare provider specializing in musculoskeletal issues.

Small changes can mitigate the risk of back and neck problems. By addressing these factors and promoting healthy habits, teenagers can reduce their risk of developing back issues associated with technology use.

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