Encouraging Eye Contact in the Age of “Text Neck”

 

Technology has led to many welcome advancements in our society, but it has also had some rather unintended impacts on overall health and well-being. One of those impacts is the development of “text neck.”

The term “text neck” was created by a U.S. chiropractor and is used to describe repeated stress injury and pain in the neck as a result of excessive watching or texting on handheld devices over a sustained period of time.

Unfortunately, this is a condition that is seeing constant growth throughout the world and is something that may be impacting our children.

Kids & Cell Phones

We may joke that a child’s phone is an extra appendage on his or her body, but there are some numbers that can back this up:

  • The average age a child receives a cell phone is 12.1 years old.
  • 56% of children ages 8 to 12 have a cell phone.
  • 21% of children 8 or younger use smartphones.
  • 60% of families who provide a cell phone to their child did this between the ages of 10 and 11.

Parents and experts alike have become increasingly concerned by the amount of time their children are spending on smartphones, but they aren’t alone – teens themselves are concerned about their phone usage, too.

A study from the Pew Research Center found that 60% of teens (between ages 13 and 17) reported that spending too much time online was a problem their age group faced, as nine in 10 teens went on to dub it a “major” problem. Some 54% of the teens felt that they spent too much time on their cellphones, and 41% said they overdid it on social media.

Common Sense Media found that teens are spending nearly nine hours a day on average using media like online video or music, while the average was six hours a day for those ages 8 to 12.

Ways to Combat “Text Neck”

Knowing that this condition could lead to a less comfortable and even painful future for your child, it is important to also know how to combat “text neck.”

One of the easiest ways to help prevent the future discomfort that may come with this continued neck strain is to limit your child’s screen time. Going over some ergonomic techniques can also prove beneficial. These can include holding the phone up higher at eye level and resting a tablet on a thigh or table.

It is also smart to set timers to remind yourself and your children to switch positions when reading or watching something on the phone.

Eye Contact in a “Text Neck” World

In a world where eyes are commonly averted down to a smartphone or tablet, eye contact can go a long way for a child.

Here are a few ways you can help your child improve eye contact:

  1. Use role play to model bad behavior to your child.Have him or her say hello to you, but respond by looking off to the side and not making eye contact.
  2. Have them look between the eyebrows.Some children may find eye contact uncomfortable and awkward regardless, which is when you can suggest they look at the person right between the eyebrows instead. It can appear to be eye contact and not make shy children uncomfortable.
  3. Go over scripts.If a child is uncomfortable with talking to or meeting new people, having a script in the back of his or her mind may help. You can go over common greetings and small talk topics with your child. Don’t forget to have your child memorize this routine: look the person in the eye, smile, say hi and use the person’s name.

Drama Kids International is proud to offer a curriculum that is specially tailored to helping children break out of their shells and become more comfortable in a variety of different social situations.  For more information and to enroll your child in a local Drama Kids class, please visit us at www.dramakids.com