Keep Your Back Up
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We battle posture in our house every day. Mister and Daphne have chronic back pain, I sometimes suffer because of getting old, and Shaggy enjoys the slouching of a teen. When Buzz Parent wanted to do a sponsored post on my site about posture I thought it was a good tie-in. Also, I have to start making some money to support my crazy adventures that break my back. Seems appropriate place to start. I found this article helpful in giving advice for parents, but really for myself as well, on improving posture. (I added the highlighted sections because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.)
Protecting Posture: 5 Tips for Parents of Kids Who Use Electronics (Read: Everyone)
30 years ago, there were mainly three kinds of patients who received physiotherapy; professional athletes, the elderly, and those recovering from serious accidents. However, go into any physiotherapy clinic these days and you’ll be shocked at the number of children sitting in the waiting room, waiting to be treated for back and neck issues that normally only affect those who are 40 to 50 years older than them. This is a serious issue worth taking into consideration for the sake of our childrens’ future health and well-being.
Children (and adults) are spending long hours hunched over monitors, TVs, and touch screens, seriously damaging their shoulders, neck and back in the process. The damage of bad posture can be so gradual that kids don’t usually feel anything until it is too late, making it hard for parents to detect. Like a leaky tap slowly dripping away, it builds up almost unnoticed over the months and years until serious medical treatment is needed. Our kids won’t feel posture problems creeping up on them; therefore, it really is up to us to protect and educate our little ones regarding this issue. This is where I struggle… I just seem to nag. Sure, they love that, but it gets repetitive.
Prevention is the key. Thankfully, there are some simple yet very effective tips that parents can follow to help avoid trips to the hospital or the osteopath. Here are five straightforward (ha!) ways you can protect your child’s posture at home.
- Time Limits and Breaks
Setting a time limit on using electronics will keep children from both wasting time and hurting their posture. Major damage occurs during long periods spent in unhealthy positions. So set time limits to cut down on damage. I make sure my kids stop after one hour on the computer or tablet. One hour of video games per day is more than enough, in my opinion.
If my young ones are doing something productive, such as a homework assignment, a 10-minute break every hour is a must. Our kids use Tomato Timer on their computers to remind them to get up, stretch, get a snack, or hug their mother. (The jokes are real and they are fabulous.) And during the break, they have to stretch, which brings us nicely to our next tip.
A good stretch after a session on the computer will do wonders to relieve tension and cramped-up muscles. My kids understand that no stretching means no computers, and I’m very strict in this regard. It might not seem like much but cultivating this great habit will go a long way towards helping protect your young ones’ posture.
You can find lots of ‘office stretches’ online (look at the bottom of this article for the graphic I like). These specifically target the muscles and joints affected when using computers. Also, your family doctor should be able to give you advice on stretches for your children.
- Keep Screens at Eye Level
Another simple yet extremely effective guard against bad posture is keeping all screens at eye level. Straining ones’ necks down to look at a screen is an unhealthy position to hold for a long time, causing damage to the upper spine and surrounding muscles. To combat this, screens must be at eye level. When your children are sitting down, also make sure that their backs are straight, the lower back is supported, and their shoulders are not hunched forward. Adjustable stands for monitors and laptops are wonderful for this.
In the case of cell phones, teach your children to use them with their backs and necks straight, holding the screen at eye level, as below.
It should come as no surprise that those most affected by the issues we’ve been discussing are those children (and adults) who do not regularly exercise, as a combination of long hours sitting down and weaker muscles from lack of exercise make them more susceptible to posture problems.
Using electronics should only be one part of an active and healthy childhood, so balancing time spent on computers with time spent working up a sweat will be beneficial in many ways. One couple I know has been using very successful in getting their kids to be more active by using a system whereby the children have to ‘earn’ time on their video game system by exercising first.
- Keep all Electronics and Computers in Family Rooms
If your children have tablets or laptops in their bedrooms, it is very difficult to monitor how they use them. Keeping all electronics in a family room lets you easily keep track of how much time the children are spending on them. Our upstairs is a ‘no phone zone’ and all electronics stay where we can see them on the main floor. This works for us.
In addition, you can make sure that they are using their electronics with good posture, straight backs, and screens at eye level. Best of all, you can be confident that they are not hunched up all night watching YouTube videos when they should be sleeping.
We hope these tips are useful to you and will help your children enjoy a lifetime of good posture. Please do consult with your family doctor or a qualified medical professional for more information on this issue or if your child is experiencing back neck or shoulder pain.
I liked these stretches because I’m too old for lunges around the house. Also, I’ve managed to find a way to do more than one at a time. Win/win.
About the Author:
Matt Morrisey is a former teacher who has travelled all over the world teaching children English, from China to the UK Matt is well known. Matt’s parents are teachers and his only brother works for a children’s charity in UK.
Matt currently writes for www.buzzparent.com and loves to write about parenting topics ranging from kids’ toys, activities for kids, parenting hacks and lifestyle. He loves remote-control drones and can’t wait until he opens his window to allow a drone to enter with an Amazon package. Not long now.
His work has been read by readers all over the world and features on blogs and websites all over the world. Matt recently decided to go back to university to do his PhD where he looks to continue his career.