‘Text neck’ causing health concerns at an earlier age

Posted at 9:04 PM, Feb 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-02 21:04:02-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It’s a condition known as “text neck” or “I-posture” and medical experts are saying it’s causing health problems among teenagers.

They’re small devices that play a big role in our day to day lives. Just walking down the street people can be seen passing by each other without making eye contact because they’re looking down at their phones and tablets.

Jim Hartlein, a physical therapist at Mary Free Bed, said that people who are consistently looking down are at risk for more than running into something.

“The head weighs anywhere between 10 and 12 pounds,” Hartlein said. “For every inch that your ear comes in front of your shoulders, it’s another 10 pounds of pull on your neck.”

More and more teenagers are using tablets and laptops in school and while doing their homework. While using the devices could encourage them to get good grades, it's causing people at a much younger age to develop early onset health problems.

"If they develop those postural habits at a very young age, by the time they get to be [in their] 20's, 30's and 40's, the connective tissue is much more dysfunctional and can become painful," Hartlein said.

It's not just the spine Hartlein said people need to be concerned about. Headaches, respiratory issues and shoulder tendinitis, are also conditions brought on by staring at electronics.

While breaking the habit of using electronics is unlikely, there are some things people can do to protect their health. Hartlein said taking a posture break every 10 to 20 minutes can make a difference. He also suggests using equipment that will put devices at eye-level.