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Your Kids and Tech Neck: How you can help

Tech neck, caused by prolonged poor posture while using devices, isn't just about neck pain. It can have a surprising ripple effect on your teen's overall well-being.

Think of a child engrossed in a phone or tablet. Their head dips forward, straining the neck muscles and the spine's natural curvature. Recent research suggests this seemingly harmless posture can have far-reaching consequences, impacting not just physical development but also the intricate workings of the young brain (4).

Posture and Brain Development

The human body is a magnificent machine, and posture plays a vital role in how information flows to the brain. When a child develops a forward head posture, flexion of the cervical spine generates tension and pulls on the brain stem, medulla in the lower brain, and cranial nerves, including the vagus nerve. When stressed, these areas of the nervous system may affect heart rate, digestion, immune function, energy and emotions (5).

When the neck is flexed even the nerve roots in the lower back move contributing to lower back and pain in the legs (6).

The nervous system acts as the brain's communication network. It carries signals back and forth, influencing everything from learning and memory to emotional regulation and sleep. When the nervous system is compromised by tech neck, these signals can become distorted or delayed, potentially impacting how the brain develops and functions (7).

Beyond the Neck: Social, Emotional, and Learning Development

Research suggests that extended screen time and/or poor posture due to tech neck can impact various aspects of a child's well-being:

  • Social Development: Research has shown that two or more hours of screen time per day in early childhood can have a negative impact on language development, and increase the likelihood of behavioural issues (1).
  • Emotional Regulation: Research suggests that changes in vagal tone can impact emotional regulation, contributing to difficulties in managing stress, anxiety, and other emotions. Children experiencing disruptions in vagal tone due to tech neck may exhibit symptoms such as increased irritability, difficulty concentrating, or heightened emotional responses (2).
  • Learning development: Current research explains prolonged screen time negatively affects auditory and visual processing working memory, and emergent literacy skills among children (3).

Taking Action: Protecting your child's development in a world full of screens

As parents and chiropractors, we have a vital role to play in protecting this crucial period of brain development. Here are some steps we can take together:

  • Limit Screen Time: Set clear boundaries on device usage especially in the mornings and at night before bedtime, encouraging other activities that promote good posture, like sports or playing outdoors. 
  • Ergonomics Matter: Ensure proper desk and chair set-up for homework time. This includes having a comfortable chair with proper back support, positioning the screen at eye level, and maintaining a neutral posture. Where possible, doing homework on their belly is another option to promote extension posture. 
  • Promote Good Posture: Encourage your child to sit up straight and hold devices at eye level to reduce strain on the neck and spine. Remind them to avoid slouching or leaning forward while using screens.
  • Encourage Neck Strengthening Exercises: We can counteract the effects of tech neck with targeted exercises that strengthen the extension muscles 
  • Chin Tucks: While sitting or standing tall with their back against the wall, slowly tuck the chin inwards, as if making a double chin. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
  • Wall Angels: Stand with your head and back against a wall, heels slightly away. Bend your elbows and raise your arms in the shape of a 'W'. Slide your arms slowly up the wall, trying to keep your body in contact with the wall while doing so and slowly slide back down. Repeat 5 times.
  • Supermans: Lie on the floor in a facedown position, with your legs straight and your arms extended in front of you. Slowly lift your arms and legs off the floor, or until you feel your lower back muscles contracting. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 5 times. 

Additionally, consulting with one of our paediatric-trained chiropractors can provide personalised guidance to address any existing concerns and support optimal spinal alignment and function in your child. Together, by taking proactive steps and seeking professional support when needed, we can empower children to thrive in the digital age while safeguarding their physical well-being for years to come.

Get in touch if you'd like to discuss further support for your teen!


  1. Oktarina, I., Suwartono, T., & Nafisah, S. L. (2024). Relationship between Screen Time and Children’s Language Development: A Systematic Literature Review. Panacea Journal of Linguistics & Literature, 3(1), 1-17.
  2. Karen V. Richards, Darren J. Beales, Anne J. Smith, Peter B. O'Sullivan, Leon M. Straker, Neck Posture Clusters and Their Association With Biopsychosocial Factors and Neck Pain in Australian Adolescents, Physical Therapy, Volume 96, Issue 10, 1 October 2016, Pages 1576–1587,
  3. Mostafa, A. M., Taha, M., & Mostafa, S. (2024). Screen Time and Learning Disabilities in Preschool Children. Egyptian Journal of Ear, Nose, Throat and Allied Sciences, 25(24), 1-10.
  4. Zoccante, L., Ciceri, M. L., Chamitava, L., Di Gennaro, G., Cazzoletti, L., Zanolin, M. E., ... & Colizzi, M. (2021). Postural control in childhood: investigating the neurodevelopmental gradient hypothesis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(4), 1693.
  5. Hauser, R. (2023). Vagus nerve compression in the neck: Symptoms and Treatments.
  6. Christie, H. J., Kumar, S., & Warren, S. A. (1995). Postural aberrations in low back pain. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 76(3), 218-224.
  7. Patrick, T. A. (2019). The effects of forward head posture on sensorimotor integration and neck and shoulder proprioception(Doctoral dissertation).


Dr Mery Ozalp

Dr Mery Ozalp

Dr Mery is passionate about holistically supporting Newcastle families


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