7 Aug 2013

Warning too much screen time damaging spines

9:31 pm on 7 August 2013

The Chiropractors Association is warning that the effects of children spending hours hunched over tablets and smart phones could become a national health problem.

Auckland chiropractor Margaret Bryce says she is seeing a big increase in the number of children with spinal deformities from hunching over digital devices.

Dr Bryce says 80% of her clients aged 10 to 15 are developing straightened neck curves as touch screens become more common.

"People are using their digital devices with their heads down all day, and particularly the kids are doing it younger and younger. Now I'm seeing children as young as 10 with straightened out neck curves."

Dr Bryce, a chiropractor for 25 years, says she would like to see more research into the effect digital devices are having on health, so the problem is properly understood.

Hayden Thomas, a spokesperson for the Chiropractors Association, says trillions of messages are sent from the brain to the spine every second and a straightened neck can disrupt them and cause tissue and organ damage.

He says the consequences of looking down at digital devices are only just coming to light, but years from now the problem will be prominent.