Simple lifestyle changes, suggest researchers, can help relieve the stress from the “text neck” posture

Limit cell phone time for toddlers, kids

If your child spends too much time with the cell phone, it is time you put a check on it. A study conducted recently has found that there is an increase in the number of patients with neck, disk hernias and alignment problems mainly due to prolonged use of smartphones.

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Researchers added that some patients, especially youngsters, who ideally should not yet have neck or back-related health issues, are coming out with disk hernias and alignment problems. Published in The Spine Journal, the findings indicate that in a neutral position looking forward, the head weighs about 4.5 to 5.4 kg and at a 15-degree flex, it feels like 12 kg. The stress on the spine increases by degree, and at 60 degrees, it is 27 kg.

Simple lifestyle changes, suggest researchers, can help relieve the stress from the “text neck” posture. They recommend holding cell phones in front of the face, or near eye level, while texting. Additionally, they also suggest using two hands and two thumbs to create a more symmetrical and comfortable position for the spine.

“In an X-ray, the neck typically curves backward and what we are seeing is that the curve is being reversed as people look down at their cell phones for hours each day,” said study co-author Dr Todd Lanman, a spinal neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Lanman and co-author Dr Jason Cuellar, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Cedars-Sinai, write that people often look down when using their smartphones, particularly when texting as compared to browsing online or watching videos.

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And parents who have toddlers need to be careful too. For toddlers between six and 11 months who tend to play with smartphones or tablets get slightly less amount of sleep than the ones who don’t. And toddlers need their sleep. According to a study conducted on 715 parents, every hour of touchscreen use results in 15.6 minutes less sleep or 26.4 minutes less total per night and 10.8 minutes more during the day, on average.

Furthermore, touchscreen devices have some positive benefits to balance the sleep problem. In a previous study, the same researchers found they help accelerate a toddler’s motor development compared to infants who don’t use them. “Thus, total restriction of touchscreen use may limit young children in terms of the potential benefits of these devices,” the study concludes.

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