Are Your Kids Suffering from ” Geek-itous”? aka
The dangers of overuse of iPads, iPhones, Tablets and
Electronics of all kinds
The media and my own patients are starting to report a new “syndrome” – we’re calling it “Geek-itous”. It’s the over use of all small handheld devices such as iPads, Smart Phones of all kinds, and computer game consoles. The problem isn’t the device itself but how it is used and for how long. Typically our kids are slouched over in a question mark shapes with their spines excessively curved, their necks torqued in a bent over posture for hours at a time, day in and day out. Not only is this unhealthy for their backs, necks and shoulders but it also creates repetitive stress injuries of the kind normally experienced by people in middle age.
No, The Kids Aren’t OK
Young bones and bodies are in a vulnerable place. Excessive amounts of time spent hunched over have negative effects on their health. Back, neck and spinal pain will happen at earlier and earlier ages.
Recent reports from health practitioners all over the world reveal stories like these:
- An 8 year old boy with a reverse neck curve from overuse of his iPhone.
- A 15 year old boy who spent his entire school vacation of 6 weeks, playing with his phone and video games. He complained of neck and back pain and developed migraine headaches.
- A 12 year old girl with thumb and wrist pain – brought on by texting too much.
Is there an App for that?
Trolling the internet to see what Apps are available for exercise, we found hundred. Have your kids pick out some Apps that interest them, then review them together before downloading. Make exercise and breaks from electronics a fun game. Rather than fighting the urge to use these seductive gadgets, join the fun and make it a positive experience. Who knows, you may have a budding Olympic athlete just waiting to emerge.
The worst position for a tablet device is in the lap with the neck and head looking down at the screen. Some research has been done on possible solutions. Placing the tablet on a table, elevated at a 45 degree angle is the least injurious for the spine and neck area. Encouraging proper ergonomics whenever possible combined with frequent posture breaks should help the situation.
It’s not Just the Kids
This article is about kids, but their parents are also at risk of injury too. Hours spent hunched over the keyboard with the neck and head thrust forward can cause numbness, tingling and nerve damage in the neck and shoulders. It can also lead to shallow breathing, tennis elbow and a host of other complaints. The answer is to get up and move around, do chest opening stretches, take a walk and take a break.
If you are the parent and have a novel and fun solution to combat Geek-itous you would like to share, please comment and share your story. We can all benefit!