Children are damaging their posture and having problems with their neck, shoulders, ribs and spine due to the frequent use of devices such as iPads and laptops, warns a leading Sydney physiotherapist.
Trish Wisbey-Roth, a physio expert in the hip and lumbo-pelvic region and author of Bounce Back, addressing common spinal issues, tells The Starfish, ‘It’s not possible to get yourself into a good ergonomic position using devices such as iPads.’
‘‘When children are using these devices, they generally sit them on their lap..then what becomes their normal posture, becomes a more extreme flex, weakening what we call our anti-gravity muscles.”
She worries children aren’t building up the necessary strength to assist them as they age.
‘‘I spend a lot of time trying to adjust how kids use their technology and do their homework – because if we don’t break that pattern down in primary school it becomes really difficult when they hit year 11 and 12,’’ she says.
‘‘They don’t have good strength or ability to sit up straight and they are sitting studying for most of the day using laptops. It can become a real issue for them.’’
Assistant principal and mother of three Tiffany Johnson told The Starfish that the use of technology didn’t just affect children physically, but also socially.
‘‘They are losing certain skills, like the ability to verbally problem solve without having to text on a phone or online forum, or have the answers immediately from an online source. This can affect their ability when reasoning with friends and family,’’ she says.
Boys in particular are captivated by technology within the gaming world.
‘‘They especially focus a lot of their time and effort into conversations about gaming, meaning they don’t talk about other issues with one another,’’ said Ms Johnson.
‘‘On the other hand, at least it starts conversation, especially in students who don’t enjoy activities like sports, so it can make them feel part of a group.’’
Ms Johnson acknowledges that technology could make life with children easier when it comes to busy times around the household.
“I think parenting is difficult, we have such busy lives and there are always time constraints,” she said.
“Having children help prepare the food with you is one option, but that requires patience and time, and if the children are very little there are safety restrictions.”
‘‘It can certainly make a parent’s life easier, but at what cost?
“We won’t see the full ramifications that technology has on young brains until this generation are adults.”