You can look all around. You can see heads down looking intently into screens anywhere you go. The bus, the street corner, university campuses, Starbucks, restaurants, sporting events, concerts. That blue light is glaring back at us.
In this article our goal is to highlight the dangers of technology, the impact on their changing brains and what can be done.
At a very young age technology comes into our tool box and exposure. We see children who are 18 months old and ‘swiping to the right’. We think it is cute that little Jane has an iPad. They are used as parental replacements, diversion , solutions for boredom, time takers, replacements for physical activities, attention holders – “just go get the iPad”
We see there is a big problem.
From a very young age we need to create and sustain curves in our neck structure. As soon as we look down we reverse this curve. If we do this at a young age the result can be detrimental from a structural and functional point of view.
When the head loses that curve, it becomes a weakened structure on which the head is resting. The threshold for tolerance of load becomes less and less. As our head goes forward, our shoulders curve in our mid back arch back. As structure follows function when we collapse the rib cage we see breathing changes, respiratory changes and cardiac function, our exercise capacity can alter too.
This creates a very unstable structure.
As the head arches forward the brain (whose job it is to keep us upright) – loses that ability. We see that forward hunched position. As the neck stays in that forward position the little 7 bones of neck stop moving in the proper position and are now carrying a heavier load.
As the neck moves the brain works. The better the neck moves the better the brain works. The calmer the brain – the calmer the body. When the neck doesn’t move properly the brain becomes in the fight or flight pattern. That means it becomes “waiting for the bear and ready to run”. If you think of it the structure matches this anticipated response. Head forward, shoulders arched forwards, breathing changes- we are ready to run. This is the stress response. The body changes are called physiology (my response internally to my environment).
When the neck doesn’t move we see changes in the frontal lobe. This is the part of the brain that is involved in:
- decision making
- impulse control
- problem solving
Let’s put this picture together in our society today (at any age) – with their head down we down regulate those above functions. So we have people that:
- have memory implications
- decision making (right from wrong)
- impulse control (go to extremes now)
- fly off the handle
- thinking , reasoning, logic challenges
- unable to regulate emotions (control)
If you have a 9-16 year old you know this to be a very real presentation IF they have been exposed to technology for a period of time. Their brains are changing before our eyes. These pathways then become the normal and default through which they view life – school, friends, and activities. This is the danger.
As they become more involved with technology that is where they live. They believe the game and replace real connections. Social connections, and interactions dwindle. They become more involved in the “online community” – that can mean forming relationship with the “game” not people. Their ability to interact even with vocabulary changes. They communicate in 140 characters and emojis instead of real life talking, emotions and sharing. Everyone is on high alert.
It is more than “neck pain“ and “text neck”.
It is brain changes and implications as this demographic matures and enters different phases of life.
That immature brain ceases development forward. We then stay in the stress pattern and stress physiology (how the body thinks it should react) gets stuck.
We are hosting a workshop here is the link to register:
Please consider attending.
Solutions to help:
- limit technology by age
- limit technology by time or duration
- monitor the games that are being played
- do not use technology one hour prior to bed
- do not use technology until 90 min after waking
- use technology for interaction and education not stimulation
- calm the brain down in other ways
- quiet music
- get outside
- counter sitting at the computer with movement
- activities that cross the midline to stimulate the brain
- coping strategies
Here is a link to reference this article:
Stay well, healthy and vibrant.