I have recently been put in the position as a parent of a 13 year old girl, of being confronted with the harsh realities of social media and smart phones. The reality is that children DO NOT need to have smart phones and endless non-parental usage of the internet.
The waterworks from our 13 year old preceded with a post tantrum of how 'we don't allow her space', or ' why must we know everything that goes on her life'...to further tantrums of letting her parents know that she 'hates us'...whew,...parenting is hard.
Here is an idea of the asocial and benign behavior we have witnessed since attaining her iPhone 5 only 2 months ago.
1) Endless usage of the phone: Sneaking the phone under the covers when the iPhone is supposed to be in our room by 9pm or sneaking other smart phones, tablets around the house, in order to stay up all hours of the night communicating rather than sleeping or studying. Constant disappearances during our holiday in order to find WiFi or recharge her phone rather than enjoying our wonderful holiday.
2) Going on to unsafe social networking sites like: Ask.fm and getting a false sense of security or worse yet, people bullying on that site with harsh and derogatory comments to her,...and in return her harsh responses that are not taught or approved of at our home.
3) Grades have gone down: Interest in school has become secondary.
4) Lying: This isn't tolerated in our household for any reason.
For these varying reasons we have limited the usage to 3 hours a day, (originally thought of completely eliminating the phone,...but how would that be teaching her responsibility?) and we are willing to put up with the "wrath of a teenage daughter:"
What have I seen as a clinician that directly affects their health?
1) Reversal of a cervical curve in their neck. Kids,...yes,...KIDS are coming in as early as age 10 with neck pain and back pain. Before the computer age, you never saw children coming in with such severe bad posture due to computer use and/or smart phone usage. Let me break it down for you.
As the child plays on their phone all day, their head weight translates FORWARD, proprioceptively training the neck to actually reverse it's curve from a lordosis to a kyphotic neck. Their shoulders droop forward with their clavicle rotation also going into an Anterior and Inferior position (what parents refer to as SLOUCHING". Their kyphotic upper back T1-T5 start to become hyperkyphotic or flattened.
So, in doctor terminology here is the scenario:
ANTERIOR HEAD TRANSLATION >> ANTERIOR-INFERIOR CLAVICULAR ROTATION >> HYPERKYPHOSIS or MILITARY BACK (flattening of the kyphotic curve in their upper back).
Anterior head translation with the head stuck in flexion will translate the C1 posterior and superior decreasing the Occipital (C0) - Atlas (C1) space.....The C1 vertebrae has a ledge...so to speak, which allows the vertebral artery (carrying oxygenated blood to the brain) and the sub-occipital nerve to be pinched.
Side effects? Decreased arterial blood supply to the head can cause headaches, postural distortion, biomechanical dysfunction, lethargic behavior (tired due to decreased oxygen flow to the brain), decreased ability to function at school (concentration level decreases, ability to sustain attention).
Decreased nerve flow function to and from the Atlanto-Occipital junction (C0-C1) can cause : disorders, build up of toxins around the dorsal root ganglia from decreased nerve flow, cerebral and cerebellar dysfunction due to decreased nerve function (with a plethora or disorders that accompany that).
So, to finalize, I would ask parents to take a more PROACTIVE approach to their children's usage of their tablets, iPads, iPhones, Samsung SIII, SIV, Note and other smart phones out there as well as being stringent upon allowing children to access unsafe applications/websites like ASK.FM (where anonymous people are finding personal information about your children and family). I think we can end up having children be healthier in the long run. I hope you all agree.