According to recent studies, the way kids use iPads, tablets & phones has the potential to harm their physical health. The dangers of ‘iPosture Syndrome’ and what to do to prevent it is explained by children’s Occupational Therapist, Morgan Webster, from Kids First Children’s Services in Sydney’s northern beaches.
Media in Australia and around the world has recently been focusing on the danger that ‘screen time’ poses to children’s health.
There’s no doubt that technology is being uses more in homes and in classrooms…but what is going on?
As children’s occupational therapist, I see many children whose posture affects their ability to concentrate, learn and demonstrate their full potential in the classroom and in the playground.
Now, research is starting to show that poor posture when using ‘screens’ is part of this problem.
Studies have identified that children as young as four and five years of age are reporting pain and soreness in their neck, shoulders and back and blurred vision and headaches as a result of increased ‘tech’ time while using iPads and iPods and other portable electronic devices.
These symptoms have recently been labeled ‘iPosture syndrome’.
‘iPosture Sydnrome’ happens when kids spend spend too long hunched over electronic devices. Their heads are positioned in a forward posture for too long and this has the potential to affect their health.
Forgive me for getting technical for just a moment, but what these studies are finding is that children who use tablets for long periods of time have greater head and neck flexion angles as a result of sitting the tablet on their lap.
This position (with their chin to their chest) poses a significant risk for children to develop ongoing head, neck and postural complaints.
How can iPosture Syndrome be avoided?
Researchers are discovering that when a tablet is held in a high position, it is more ergonomic. This means that productivity is optimized while fatigue and discomfort for the body is minimised.
The aim is to maintain a neutral body position, placing the least amount of stress on the muscles and body, which in turn prevents the development of postural pain.
As adults we understand the impact that staying in one position for extended periods has on our body (eg. sitting at the computer in the office)
But what are we doing to help our kids avoid the trap of technology-induced injuries?
It’s important that we parents educate our children about the importance of active movement regularly throughout the day.
We also need to help them to understand how sedentary activities impact their developing bodies.
Even while participating in handwriting or tech activities, your child needs to move so that their body stays strong, stable and engaged.
Discomfort and pain caused by poor posture when using technology is preventable.
Practical ways to prevent iPosture Syndrome
Here are some practical tips to remember when your child is actively engaging in ‘tech’ time.
Safer postures to try during ‘tech time’
Technology is not the enemy
As adults it is important to not look at technology as the enemy! We know it’s here to stay, so let’s hope educating our children (and ourselves!) in good postural habits will help them to not only enjoy ‘screen-time’, but also find a healthy balance between active living and the wonders of technology.
Concerned about your child’s posture & concentration?
Kids First’s Occupational Therapists, based in Sydney’s northern beaches, have years of experience in helping children who need to improve their posture, concentration and core strength so that they can learn and play better.
Contact us on (02) 9938 5419 or find out more about Occupational Therapy for kids here
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