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DIGITAL KID'S BODY: The Physical Impact of Technology on Children

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

There’s no doubt that digital technology is a fascinating world; children can play, learn, create and connect - opening up a whole world of exciting possibilities. However, children who spend large amounts of time glued to a computer risk developing several aspects that health advisers have warned about, including emotional and physical risks. With this post, I would like to focus on the physical impact, and I am pleased to say that Kids and Screens has a first collaborator: I have invited a physiotherapist to talk about this topic. I would like to thank the physiotherapist Dr Alessandra Maróstica de Freitas, who wrote this mini article. Even with her busy routine and family commitments, she was willing to write for our blog. My sincere thanks. I hope you enjoy this informative text, and please feel free to share it!

"Impact of technology on posture and child motor development."

Dr Alessandra Maróstica de Freitas

The risks of using technology are present in our daily lives. But those who think that these risks only happen to adults are completelly wrong, as children have been accessing digital devices earlier and earlier. Those who live with children know that nowadays it is almost impossible to remove them from these technologies. Children get to the point of leaving their favorite toy aside to stay connected on social media or playing online games on their devices. Technology is part of the routine of children, whether with video games, television, computers or smartphones. This overexposure to technological resources has been changing the learning, social interaction, perception of the environment and motor development of children.

The indiscriminate use of technological resources causes children to stop developing neuromotor skills such as strength, balance, physical agility and mainly proprioception, which is the ability to recognise the body's spatial location, orientation, force exerted by the muscles, as well as the position of each part of the body in relation to the others.

The after-effects of an excessive use of technology devices go beyond motor development and may also affect children's posture. The posture adopted for use of mobile devices for example, is a low head and eyes facing the device screen. The shoulders are turned forward and the spine curves, leading to a compression of the airways. This will generate pain, muscle weakness and even shortness of breath. Repetition of movements when typing can also lead to tendonitis, and in the long term, there are great chances of developing childhood obesity.

But what to do to change this situation?

But what to do if you notice that the child displays signs of an excessive use of electronic devices? You have to create rules on how long this use should be. Prohibiting altogether is not the solution, since technological resources are important for education and learning. However, we must seek a balance, always monitoring for the rules to be applied and fulfilled. There is no consensus on an optimal time limit for the use of technologies by children, but the general rule is not to go two hours straight without a rest (although this depends on the age). One tip to avoid injury is to encourage children to stretch and practice physical activity. The position for the use of these devices must be adapted in a way that the risks are smaller.

About the WRITER:

Dr Alessandra Maróstica de Freitas - Physiotherapist, Specialist in Theories and Techniques for Integrative Care for the Neurosurgery and Neurosurgery sector of UNIFESP / EPM, also specialist in Business Management and Dermatofunctional Physiotherapy. She is involved in the following areas: preventive physiotherapy, RPG, temporomandibular dysfunctions and aesthetics. To see more details, please access her professional webpage.

I hope you found this post useful and informative. Also I would like to share with you some findings point out by Linda Stade regarding the most common problems that have been discovered by physiotherapy practices (study conducted at Wesley College - Australia): poor neural development, text neck, poor skeletal development, swayback, obesity, Poor posture, weak core muscles, early arthritis, poor muscular development , poor alignment, among others).

Please have a look at the Guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age (Click here)

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