A recent article in ‘The Week’ magazine entitled, ‘The Text Neck’ refers to an ‘epidemic’ that is worth becoming aware of – the craze of texting – which for some has devolved
into a dependency behavior. The latest research on the topic by back surgeons has concluded that those who are constantly looking down at their phones to text are subject to neck cramps, pinched nerves, herniated discs and even early degeneration of the spine especially in the younger generation.
The reason for the effect is quite logical when we think about how our bodies are designed. The normal head weighs between 10-12 pounds. Using computer modeling the researches found that when the head is angled or bowed at 60 degrees (looking down from an upright position to text for example) the strain on the neck increases to 60 pounds – about the weight of four bowling balls! Our bodies simply cannot support that weight over time.
For those who have become addicted to texting (yes – this has become a recognized addiction which has even been linked to increased depression) maybe it’s time to share this information with them. The data is in – permanent physical damage can happen when texting becomes habitual. Further, when we replace active engagement with other people to mere texting we lose our ability to read social cues or develop a stronger sense of self.
When someone creates a limited comfort zone around them using texting as the main way to communicate with the rest of the world they become less rather than more. Real communication cannot be reduced to a quirky three or four word response. Deeper, more engaged communication is critical for healthy family relationships as well as success in the work place. But how does someone develop the critical skills of active communication if they don’t practice them continuously in the real world setting?
Often we can observe families at restaurants or on the mall and the parents as well as the kids are not interacting with each other but are busy texting or playing a game on their phones. The opportunity for true human connection is lost as their fingers tap out their current abbreviated comment to someone – anyone – and they anxiously await a response.They seem to be saying to themselves … ‘I am important to someone out there – just watch and ‘they’ will respond to my latest comment.’ Their phone has become their ‘go to friend’ and they have become so dependent upon it that they can have a melt down if their battery is low. Really?
The benefit of this powerful technology cannot be downplayed. It has changed the world for the better. It can make us more efficient and effective when we need to communicate with someone quickly and even allows us to share something funny with a friend without interrupting them at the precise moment we send our text. However, like anything in life the question boils down to balance and moderation. If those two concepts sound a bit boring to you – think about living without them in your life. Not a pretty picture!
If each of us would consider these implications in our own lives and take the time to gently encourage our family members to consider them as well we would improve our ability to communicate authentically and see the deeper value in the human experience.
If you try to discuss these points with someone you care about who seems to have become addicted to texting and they refuse to listen or engage in the discussion you know you have hit a nerve. That can be a good thing if you don’t give up. After all, we know that sometimes a point needs to be repeated four or five times to get through to a reluctant learner. Don’t we owe it to those we truly care about to share information that would help them in the long run?
Have a great few days!