In a world where technology is becoming more and more integral to daily life, it’s undeniable that little attention is paid to posture when using digital devices. Owing to this fact, it’s not uncommon to spend hours a day huddled over your smartphones, with your heads bent down and shoulders hunched. But what impact does this have on your health? And, more importantly, how does this impact your children, who are still growing and developing? This article discusses a rising musculoskeletal condition associated with excessive device use called text neck.
“Text neck” is a term that was coined in 2014 to describe the feeling of stiffness and/or soreness in your neck and shoulders that can result from spending too long on your phone. Text neck is associated with an array of symptoms including headaches, muscle spasms, and pain around the jaw. If you own a smart device, it’s likely you’ve experienced text neck – in fact, the syndrome affects over 75% of smartphone users .
So why does looking at your phone cause so much discomfort and in some instances, even pain?
When using handheld devices, you tend to spend long periods of time looking down at your palms, with your heads tilted. This places your spine at very unnatural and discomforting positions.
The image above illustrates just how much strain you place on your neck, when using your phone. At a neutral position, the average head weighs approximately 10-12 pounds (4.5 to 5.5 kg). When the head is tilted just 15 degrees to look at your phone, the weight increases to a distressing 27 pounds (12 kg), which is more than double the force exerted on your necks! 
Now imagine your neck has to bear this weight for six hours every day. Yes, that’s right. You typically spend an average of six hours a day on your phones . Sounds unbelievable, right? So, what does this mean for your health, and the health of your kids? Can text neck have serious implications in the long run?
If left untreated, text neck can lead to long-standing conditions such as chronic pain, jaw pain, hunchback, and in some cases, permanent arthritic damage. Children, in particular, are more susceptible to these conditions as their musculoskeletal systems are still undergoing developments. So how can you protect your child from the aforementioned detrimental effects of bad posture?
To prevent your kids from sustaining a text neck, it is important to make sure they sit up straight and hold their smart devices at a good distance and a good angle from their faces. This will help reduce the strain on their necks and prevent the onset of painful symptoms.
You may now be thinking, “But I’m not around my kids all the time! How can I ensure that they are practising good posture when they’re in their room, at school, or out with friends?”
Luckily for you, you’re not alone. Parental control apps like planoApp can help monitor your child’s smartphone use for you! The planoApp has a great in-built system that detects how far and at what angle your child is holding their phone from their face. It sends them a notification when they need to correct their posture or hold their smartphone at a different angle.
Furthermore, when your child demonstrates responsible screen behaviour (e.g. by taking regular breaks or sitting up straight, Plano rewards them with points. These points can be used to book and enjoy fun, device-free activities (with your permission of course) listed in the planoShop.
This feature offers a great opportunity for your child to take control of their own health and to maintain good posture independently.
We all want the best for our kids, but in this ever-changing world, it’s often hard to ensure that they stay happy and more importantly, healthy.
Checking in on their posture and screen use with the help of planoApp is a good place to start! As you will know by now, it will help them avoid an array of potential musculoskeletal problems and also establish a positive relationship with technology that will last a lifetime.
 Fejer, René; Ohm Kybik, Kirsten; Hartvigsen, Jan. (2006). The prevalence of neck pain the world population: a systematic critical review of the literature. https://www.plano.co/your-smartphone-is-a-real-pain-in-the-neck-literally/
 Hansraj, Kenneth. (2014). Assessment of stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and position of the head. Surg Technol Int. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25393825/
 Kemp, Simon. (2018). Digital in 2018: World’s Internet Users Pass the 4 Billion Mark. We Are Social. https://wearesocial.com/blog/2018/01/global-digital-report-2018
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