Excessive device use often leads to the common ailment known as "text neck" pain. It's something many of us experience due to constantly looking down at our screens for 8-10 hours a day, whether it's a computer, phone, tablet, or book. This poor posture can result in muscle fatigue, pain, and even headaches. However, there are simple ways to prevent and improve this issue, as shown in this short video.
Our spines simply aren’t designed to support our heads that way for so many hours. Your head weighs between 12-15 lbs. When supported in good posture it balances well on your spine and skeleton. When looking down, the weight is supported by the muscles in your neck and upper back and your spine is not doing the bulk of the supporting work as it should. The result is neck pain from texting, reading and checking your social feeds.
My advice is “be where you are at” and it is something I need to practice too. People who email you don’t need instant communication back. Instagram isn’t real life and it isn’t that important. Recent research shows that people who don’t use it report higher levels of happiness and less anxiety. Who among us couldn’t stand a little more happiness and less anxiety.
On top of that, by constantly clicking between apps on our phones or iPads, we are destroying our attention spans and our ability to concentrate. Research also shows that in the last decade the average American attention span has decreased an enormous amount. I personally didn’t have a lot to begin with so this isn’t good news.
My recommendations are easier to say than do. Set aside quiet hours and turn your phone off and put it away, at least put it on silent. Make yourself have to get up to check it and put it on silent so the beeping doesn’t entice you into engaging. Set yourself a limit on how may times you can go on twitter a day and don’t keep it playing in the background on your computer. Respond to emails in chunks if you have to be on top of things, don’t check it or respond constantly.
Part of my problem is that I love to read and often don’t do it in the best posture. If I had to pick between giving up the iPad and giving up the book, the obvious choice is putting the iPad down. I have been trying to leave my iPad in another room lately while I read. Mine is old and almost dead and I am really evaluating whether or not I want a new one. I am starting to think it might be more trouble than it is worth.
As for reading, I read either on a kindle that exclusively is a reader or a book. If it was a kindle fire with all of my apps on, I would never actually finish a book because I would be mindlessly clicking between things.
So…bottom line. Put the devices away or use them in good posture. Your back and your brain (and your favorite people) will thank you!