Many parents have been paying close attention to the mental impacts virtual learning and screen time have on their kids, but the physical detriments are sometimes overlooked.
Toronto-based chiropractor and injury expert Sapna Sriram recently joined The Morning Show to discuss how we can prevent injuries and aches caused by technology for our kids.
“Our school-age children are not immune to any of the same injuries that we see in adults,” Sriram says.
This includes pain in the neck, shoulders and back, as well as headaches.
To check your child’s posture and to prevent injury, Sriram recommends drawing an imaginary line straight out from their mid-forehead to the device they’re using, making sure everything is in line.
“And by doing that, their line of sight will be more in line with their monitor so that they’re not having to tilt their neck down,” she says.
Sriram also recommends having your child reach their arm straight out to see if their fingers can touch the screen. This will ensure their device is at a good length away from their face and that it’s centred from their body.
“So they’re not having to look off to the side to use their device and that will minimize how much rotation they’re having,” she adds.
Using anti-glare and a larger font size will also help with a child’s posture because they won’t have to lean in too far to read, Sriram says.
Whether your child is using an adult- or child-sized piece of furniture, there are different ways to make adaptations based on what’s most ergonomic for them.
If their feet aren’t touching the ground, Sriram recommends having them use a stool or sit with their legs crisscrossed so their hips are more supported. Additionally, you can change the posture they’re sitting in and it’s OK if they want to move around the house, she says.
“Every 30 minutes or an hour they should be doing a reset and ideally incorporating some exercises,” she adds.
For a simple but effective exercise, Sriram recommends doing a star stretch: extend your arms out to your sides and keep your feet wide. From there, reach over and upwards with one arm and slide your other arm towards your leg.
You can also try the hummingbird: Lift your arms from your sides, bending upwards from your elbows. While squeezing your shoulder blades together, make little circles with your arms and bend from one side to the other.
Lastly, for a posture reset, place your arms behind your head with your fingers interlocked. Gently push your head into your hands and hold that resistance for a few seconds and then release.
“What’s great about this exercise is that you’re actually really helping to undo that negative posture that you find your kids are in — or we’re in — when using our devices, our phones, or surfing the internet for hours on end,” Sriram says.
All of these exercises can be done for 30 seconds to a minute, as long as there’s no pain or discomfort, she adds.
For more tips on how your kids can avoid injuries caused by excessive technology use, watch the full video above.