Opinion: Our spines shouldn’t suffer for technology

Better posture can’t mask the flaws with current tech that hurts our bodies

‘Text neck’ is apparently a thing. What is it, you ask? It’s a name for a phenomenon blamed on users bending their necks to look at their phones.

Why is craning our necks to look down at our phones such a bad thing? Realise it or not, our heads are heavy things that need the proper support. The constant act of bending our neck to look at our phones puts unnecessary stress on our spine and in the long run could lead to debilitating pain.

There’s not just text neck to worry about. Carpal tunnel along with other repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are problems that afflict many of us, especially those who work in front of computers and at desks for most part.

It’s all well and good to get advice on better posture, better positioning, getting better chairs and the like but the reality is that current technology is more about making it easier to do work. 

One reason Apple for instance has resisted putting touch screens on its computers is ergonomics. The gorilla arm syndrome, a pain caused by constantly reaching up to manipulate things on an upright surface, is real. 

Studies have shown that long hours sitting at a PC can be detrimental to the human body and yet for decades, a new paradigm has yet to emerge.

What can be done to fix things? Look up tips on preventing RSIs and there’ll be a lot of them but while it is important that people practice better posture at the same time, tech needs to evolve as well.

Laptop screens that can be better angled to help lessen neck strain is a start. The growing interest in AI assistants is also a good thing - talking to our phones instead of checking them every so often might be one way to lessen neck strain and prevent text neck.

In the future it would be good for smartphone makers, as well as companies who make the other things we need to work, really think about making tech take less of a toll on our bodies. Because like it or not, for some of us, using less tech isn’t an option - long hours and reliance on devices is a reality of life for many people, including this writer.

Maybe one day we’ll be without phones entirely - networked neurally and being able to work without being stationary, chained to a desk. Until that future happens, maybe we just need reminders to take a break, and find the best way to use tech without suffering for it.