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Lessen the Time Your Child Spends on Phone, Tablets

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Our phones always have our attention, often from the alarm we wake up to, until the moment we go to sleep. Throughout our day, however, repeatedly using our phones without taking breaks can cause plenty of issues from repetitive strain in our hands to pain and strain in our necks.

This is even more prevalent with our youth.

In a recent study, published in Surgical Neurology International, researchers looked at neck pain in children and youth. The study looked at kids who spent on average five to seven hours on their smartphones and handheld devices; they were observed to have their neck bent forward at an angle greater than 45 degrees. They all reported having neck pain, from the back of their neck to their shoulders, for more than six months. It’s increasingly common that children and youth spend hours a day bent forward looking at screens on mobile devices.

This 21st century problem is being informally dubbed as text neck, and it’s a trend worth taking seriously.

Here are three tips to consider to help break those habits and protect your back and neck from sprain and strain:

1. Reduce Screen Time: Limit screen time to only two hours or less a day. This includes the time you spend looking down at a phone or tablet. The time we spend in front of the screen, unless it’s work- or homework-related, could be better spent being more physically active (increasing our energy in the process).

2. Take Frequent Breaks: After every 45 minutes of staring at screens (whether computer or cellphone), try to take a mini-break by getting up, stretching, and/or walking around. You’ll feel refreshed and motivated. You don’t have to check every notification instantly. They’ll still be there if you put away your phone for a while.

3. Stretch and Strengthen: With all the time you spend straining your neck down, it’s good to stretch and strengthen the muscles that you’re using on a regular basis. A great time to do this is during your mini-breaks.

And here is another idea, unless your child absolutely needs his or her phone in school, have them leave it at home!

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