Parents called to limit tech time for kids as injuries spike

SPINE PROBLEMS Physiotherapist Lois James said the neck and back strain in children is caused by incorrect posture when they use technology such as computers and iPads.
SPINE PROBLEMS Physiotherapist Lois James said the neck and back strain in children is caused by incorrect posture when they use technology such as computers and iPads. Katie Cameron

PARENTS across the Southern Downs are being urged to limit their children's "technology time", as significant physical injuries, usually seen only in adults, are becoming more common in youngsters.

Warwick physiotherapist Lois James said an emphasis should be put on correct posture with restricted time on technology such as iPads, smartphones and computers.

"One to two hours per day is sufficient," she said.

"The rest of the time they should be outside playing and running around."

A physio for 40 years, Mrs James said the problem of childhood obesity was getting worse as children chose the couch over the playground.

"One of the major things that lead to obesity is not doing enough physical exercise," she said.

Mrs James has treated children with back and neck issues, as well as problems including carpel tunnel syndrome and thumb strain injuries, all from the overuse of technology.

Chronic back pain and early signs of curvature of the spine in children are also due to too much time hunching over computers, tablets and smartphones.

"They get sore necks and sore backs," Mrs James said.

"They are often also sitting incorrectly when doing their homework and have an inappropriate sitting posture."

Health professionals are also seeing an increase in headaches and temporarily blurred vision in children from staring for too long at screens.

"It is difficult for the body to sustain a fixed posture - that's when they tend to get problems," Mrs James said.

Mrs James recommends a correct seating posture at all times when using technology and having a desk set up in the room for computer work.

"Posture needs to be emphasised more," she said.

"I would rather see a sports injury than one with posture.

Injuries from the overuse of technology include sore thumbs and hands from games, pain in the spine from poor posture, development of dry eye from focusing on a screen without blinking, headaches and prolonged back pain as well as future spinal problems.

Topics:  injuries parenting physiotherapy technology

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