AtlanticView Kids spoke with Barbara Minkowitz, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, about how texting, gaming, and other activities can affect children's neck and spine.
Your child may spend a significant amount of time texting, playing on the computer, and lugging around a backpack full of books and supplies. Will all of this take its toll on his/her neck and back?
AV Kids: Tell Us About “Text Neck.”
Dr. Minkowitz: “Text neck” is a term coined to describe the head position used by people engaged in texting or using a computer or video game. It involves the neck being flexed while you’re looking down.
AV Kids: Should I Be Concerned About This Position?
Dr. Minkowitz: Text neck is more prevalent in children now than it was in the past, and it can be behind complaints of headache and back, neck and shoulder pain. It’s difficult to predict what the future effects will be on children’s skeletal growth, so they should be encouraged out of this head position whenever possible.
AV Kids: What’s A Better Position?
Dr. Minkowitz: Teach your child to keep her head in a neutral position when using her cellphone or other devices. While kids usually keep their phones down in their laps, the phone should be held higher so it’s aligned with the eyes. This way, neck muscles are not strained.
AV Kids: What Else Can I Do?
Dr. Minkowitz: Consider investing in an ergonomic chair designed for video game use that controls spine alignment. Encourage your child to take frequent breaks. Have him pause to stretch his neck after more than 15 minutes of looking down at a screen. And, if it’s really problematic, set limits on the amount of screen time your child is allowed. It’s also important to make sure that your child’s backpack isn’t over 10- 15% of your child’s weight.
Dr. Barbara Minkowitz is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and part of Atlantic Medical Group.