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What a pain in the neck

Looking down at your tech gadgets for extended periods can lead to aches and strains
by Chrystal Chan

Comic of a boy with a neck ache looking down at his phone

Have you been getting more frequent headaches or a stiff neck? It could be “text neck”, a modern-day syndrome afflicting many millennials. A group of NTU communication students discovered that most young adults spend three or more hours a day looking down at their tech gadgets. This prolonged head-forward posture could lead to neck strain and spinal problems that used to only affect people in their 60s.

Your head weighs about 5kg. When you tilt it forward by 15 degrees, a weight of 12kg is exerted on your spine. Tilt your head by 45 degrees and the weight on your spine increases to 22kg.

Keeping your head bent over your phone for two to four hours a day for four years will lead to over 130,000kg of accumulated stress on the spine. Side effects include headaches, neck and back pains, carpal tunnel syndrome, cervical spondylosis and rotator cuff muscle strains.

Counter ''text neck'' by holding your mobile device at eye level and taking active breaks to stretch.

Keep strains away

Four Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information students – Joanne Tan, Hannah Wong, Fiona Ang and Dannie Seet – launched “Stand Corrected”, a campaign to raise awareness and educate young people on “text neck” syndrome, a painful condition with serious repercussions linked to long hours of texting.