The majority of people in modern-day society are, to some degree, connected to high-tech digital devices. Whether it’s a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, or a gaming device, people are spending more time everyday and becoming more dependent on their hand held high-tech gadgets than ever before. Over the last decade, increasing awareness has been emerging as to how this can adversely affect your posture, in turn creating poor posture and needless suffering from neck pain, TMJ problems and headaches. More recently, research is revealing an even bigger problem- digital dementia. Digital dementia refers to the significant brain imbalances leading to cognitive decline, short-term memory loss, emotional imbalances as well as developmental delays in children, all created from an excessively slouched posture while using hand held technology. People at any age can be adversely affected by tech neck and digital dementia, although these problems can have the strongest effect on children due to all of the developmental changes occurring both in their brains and bodies. Let’s take a closer look at each of these problems, and then strategies you can implement to not be a victim of this high-tech epidemic.

Tech Neck–A Real Pain In The Neck

teen tech neck

Tech Neck is the result of looking down at your digital devices for prolonged times while being completely mindless of your posture. This can lead to unnecessary suffering from headaches, neck pain, breathing difficulties and jaw pain. By looking down at your device for hours everyday, your neck is in flexion which multiplies the compressive weight of your head on your cervical spine. The average weight of your head is 10-12 pounds. By simply flexing your head and neck 15 degrees, the weight of your head on your neck increases to 27 pounds. As the head tilts forward by 30 degrees, the head weight is increased to 40 pounds, at 45 degrees of tilt the head weighs 49 pounds, and at a forward tilt of 60 degrees the weight of the head is 60 pounds.

Over time, this excessive amount of force on the cervical spine can lead to chronic postural abnormalities, accelerated spinal degeneration as well as chronic, frequent neck pain and headaches. Many of the signs and symptoms of tech neck can be reversed if appropriate action is taken before permanent structural damage occurs.

Digital Dementia–A Modern-Day Health Epidemic

digital dementia brain

Digital Dementia is a modern day health epidemic resulting in brain imbalances from over-utilization of technology and excessive slouched posture. Digital dementia can lead to cognitive decline, short-term memory loss, lack of motivation, anxiety, depression, anger, balance disorders and uncoordinated movement patterns.

How does Digital Dementia develop? When people spend an excessive amount of time on their devices with poor posture, a sensory disassociation occurs where the back of the brain is over- stimulated while the frontal aspect of the brain is under-active.

The occipital lobe in the back of the brain processes visual signals such as visual clues from a video game, social media or a TV program. While seated and engaged with technology, the front part of the brain including the frontal and parietal lobes are under-stimulated. These regions of the brain are responsible for higher order thinking and good behaviors such as motivation, goal-setting, reading, writing, memory and socially appropriate behaviors.

Can Digital Dementia be reversed? The good news is yes. Considering your brain is always changing and rewiring based on your activities, taking a pro-active role can help to optimize your brain performance. The first step is to make sure you are using good posture while using your device, which means holding it up to eye-level instead of looking down. If your arms get tired, it’s time to take a break. Other tips to help prevent or reverse Tech Neck and Digital Dementia include:

  • Limit technology use to no more than two hours per day.

  • Get moving—regular physical activity helps to improve posture and brain function.

  • Sit on an exercise ball or posture cushion to build core strength and stimulate the brain for better balance, coordination and posture.

  • Take an hourly posture break by sitting up straight, extend your arms out, push your chest out, lean your head back and hold for 30 seconds.

  • Use posture reminders by having a timer set on your device to remind you to be aware of and focused on your posture and when to take a posture break.

Posture is declining at the speed of technology and people, especially children, are suffering the ill health effects and cognitive impairment. How you engage with technology can change your life.