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Mobile Devices Are Bad News For Your Child's Posture, But These Tips Help

Watching in bed is a very bad idea

18/02/2017 8:23 AM AEDT | Updated 18/02/2017 8:30 AM AEDT
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Not the best posture for a healthy neck and back.

Before you get defensive, this article isn't about judging you on how much time your kids are spending on their iPads. We'll leave the parenting to you, but it is handy to know that there are tweaks you can make to how kids use electronic devices that can lessen the load on their necks and backs.

"Modern children spend more time than ever before hunched over a screen, playing games or updating social media and, now they're back at school, your kids may be using devices even more frequently," Francine St George, Physiotherapist and author of The Back Pain Handbook told The Huffington Post Australia.

"Clients at my physiotherapy practice in Sydney often cite the potential long-term consequences on their children's posture as a major concern. Getting it wrong in the early years can have lifelong effects. My teenage patients sit up and listen when I tell them the last bone in the body to mature is their collarbone, so how they handle their posture now really matters," St George said.

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As tempting as it is, try to keep devices away from the bed.

For younger children

"A way to encourage good posture is to attach a child's iPad or other device to the fridge. Then your child will need to stand up straight to use the device, instead of slumping. This is a great tip for teachers too, who can attach pupils' devices to a classroom wall."

For schoolchildren

"With the new school year just getting started, it's a great time to get good study habits in place."

Here are some tips for help protect against back and neck strain while hitting the books:

Bed is for sleeping

"No studying on the bed. If you're using an iPad, sit up in a chair with the iPad upright in a holder in front of you, to avoid hunching over," St George said.

Stretch

"When sitting for long periods, regularly raise your arms above your head and stretch like you are yawning. Looking at the corners of the room at regular times will also help correct your posture."

Exercise

"Whenever you see stairs, make a habit of jogging to the top, perhaps even going up and down them a few times. Some level of baseline fitness keeps the oxygen going to your muscles -- and to your brain – and will help you think more clearly."

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Take regular physical breaks from study.

For Teenagers

"Excessive use of mobile phones and other electronic devices in a sustained forward head and neck position creates the potential for the onset of neck and back pain much too early," St George said.

Below, some tips to help teenagers cope with the changes they are going through:

Fitness is essential

"Teenagers must exercise at least three times a week and should choose the type of exercise they enjoy or they will not stay committed to it. The exercise they prefer might change through their growing years. However, scale back on competitive ball sports and running when your child is going through a growth spurt. This will reduce the risk of tendon problems, particularly of the knee. Children become easily disillusioned with sport when injured and inclined to stop participating."

Get the right equipment

"If possible, acquire a supportive chair and desk for your teenager. Provide a backpack that also has a strap around the pelvis and place the heaviest items closest to the body inside the pack. Try to convince your child to wear the pack at the front – not easy as this is not fashionable."

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