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KUALA LUMPUR: THERE is no doubt that smartphones make our daily lives more convenient. With the click of a button, we are able to gain access to any piece of information.

As such, smartphones are widely used not only by adults, but also children.

What many are unaware of, however, are the risks that these gadgets pose, especially to children, as they are constantly bent forward for a prolonged period of time, texting or playing games.

Chiropractic technology and myofascial therapist Lim Jia Jen said prolonged use of smartphones could cause degenerative spinal stress in children.

 “The prolonged use of smartphones could result in pain of the neck, lower back, shoulders and wrists, as well as headaches.

“It also causes degenerative spinal stress. This is a major postural nightmare which could have a detrimental effect on the children’s musculoskeletal health.

 “The joints and tissue in the neck are not built to withstand being flexed for long periods,” she told the New Sunday Times.

 Lim said the action of peering down at the screen for a long period could cause the natural curvature of the neck to revise.

“This applies to the lumbar spine. It could lead to degenerative disc disease which may be irreversible.

“Bone spurs start to form and in many cases, cause disc herniation and disc prolapse.”

She said children should be taught on how to manage their time on smartphones.

“It is important to prevent early degeneration of joints, especially the spine. Reduce their time on these gadgets. Children should be outdoors at least once a week.

“Teach them correct posture. They should take regular screen breaks and do some stretching exercises to prevent strain injuries.”

A family physician who only wanted to be known as Dr Ng said children below five years of age were not encouraged to use smartphones.

“Many school-going kids want smartphones due to peer pressure. Parents must play their role in this matter.

“Parents who insist on getting smartphones for their children must learn to discipline their children. Limit usage time and allow them to use the phone only after they have finished their homework, for example.

“There would also be physical, social and psychosocial problems for the children if the situation is allowed to persist.

“Parents must be responsible in this regard.” Additional reporting by Siti Nazzua Bani

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