Apps are fun. And cool. You can find an app for anything including entertaining your child. Some apps are even aimed at babies and toddlers. An ad on one of the television channels aimed at preschoolers says it will help your preschool child "get a head start on education". Throughout the commercial, we see a young boy playing with the app on an electronic tablet. He seems to be enoying himself as he plays with numbers and interacts with the characters. We also see him with his neck bent at an abnormal angle and his hands in an unnatural position.
Several months ago, I was shopping with my 20 month old daughter. There was another mother in the dressing rooms with two older children (I would guess ages 4 and 7). She had her kids in one of the double strollers provided at the store. Each had their necks bent over at a 90 degree angle completely engrossed in an app. She told them that she was going to try on a few things and would be right back. She told them to stay right where they were. Neither child responded or looked up from their tablet. They were oblivious to everything around them except their app. Their mom tried on a few things and came back out. The kids never looked up when she wheeled them away. Heads still bent over at 90 degrees.
In my career, I was frequently responsible for Worker's Compensation in major corporations. In one of my roles, I was responsible for developing an "Office Ergonomics" program to help combat the highest dollar workers comp claim: repetitive motion injury or carpal tunnel. Our program was based on helping reduce nerve injury or damage from repititive computer use by using proper body, head and hand positioning. Incorrect positioning was resulting in large numbers of claims as well as many surgeries for our employees. Some had permanent nerve damage as a result of these repetitivve motion injuries. I had a flash back to this work when I started seeing little kids bent over their tablets working on apps. I believe that in a few years, we will begin seeing a huge number of repetitive motion injuries in kids as a result of working on games and apps on tablets or computers and not using proper positioning.
"Oh Mom..." I can hear kids groaning. I'm fine.
This is nothing to take lightly. Ask any adult who has near constant pain and reduced functioning in their hands because of overuse and improper ergonomics with the PC. It happens every day. And we will see it with our kids if we don't take some time now to make sure they are using proper body mechanics. The same parents who dutifully strap their babies into the right car seats, insist on bicycle helmets with a tricycle and slather their little ones in sunscreen are also allowing their kids to use aps with their necks bent at unhealthy angles and their hands in positions that can place stress on the nerves. And they don't realize it because no one is talking about it. That's because it isn't a problem that we are hearing about yet.