Watching the kids’ backs
From chronic back pain to the sprouting of horns (yes, really), posture-related problems caused by the increased use of smartphones and laptops is a growing cause for concern, especially for teenagers. Here’s what you can do about it.
Digital working is now a part of school life and while it’s a development that brings exciting opportunities, there are also challenges. In particular, alarms have been sounded over how prolonged use of smartphones and laptops can take its toll on young bodies.
Probably the most disconcerting finding has been that too much tech is making young people quite literally horny.
Researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, this year claimed that excessive bending of the neck to look down at screens may be leading to the appearance of little horns at the base of the skull in people aged 18–30. It is thought that the hook-like protrusion, which can grow to nearly 3 cm in length, is the bone’s reaction to stress. The finding is not isolated. Private healthcare company BUPA claimed in 2016 that young people were increasingly complaining of conditions traditionally associated with old age, including back pain, and put the shift partly down to poor posture. A widely published survey by the British Chiropractic Association in 2015, meanwhile, found that 28% of people aged from 18 to 24 were already experiencing neck and back pain.
Along with the worry that slouching, straining and craning may have an especially damaging effect on bodies which are still growing, one of the main reasons that the issue of posture is pressing for young people is that habits are often formed in youth — once poor posture is established, it can be hard to fix.
There’s no need to start equipping your teens with slate and chalk, however. Simple measures, such as taking periodic breaks from the screen and stretching, can make a difference – the NHS here gives a list of quick exercises to help posture and reduce strain. And, of course, ergonomically designed work and study furniture — which ensures good posture and better performance without even having to think about it – is also important.
So if you were, for example, looking for a great back-to-school present for the teen in your life, you might like to consider a lightweight, portable laptop stand, designed according to ergonomic principles, which minimises musculoskeletal strain and also looks awesome. Just a thought...
Photo by @olenkakotyk