Photo: Madeleine Fritsch-Lärka/Sveriges Radio

Are smart phones and tablets hurting you?

Physical therapists and ergonomists are warning that the increased use of smart phones and tablets can lead to serious neck problems among users.

They say young people are most at risk.

"They sit with their heads bent forward as much as possible, and that behavior is really extreme today and I think it's going to be a major problem in the future," Pär Hafstad, a physical therapist in Helsingborg, tells Swedish Radio news.

Hafstad says he has gotten a whole new group of patients – teenagers with headaches and neck problems because they spend a large part of their day bent over a smart phone or tablet.

Ewa Gustafsson, an ergonomist and a researcher at Gothenburg University, says there has been no major research into the new syndrome sometimes referred to as iPad neck. But she too believes it will cause problems in the future.

One problem, she says, is that it is hard to use these products in a way that is good for both the neck and hands.

"If you put it on your knees or on a table to make it easier to write, then it means you have to bend your neck to read it, and if you angle it so that it's easier to see, then it's harder to write on," she says.

Gustafsson does not recommend replacing a normal computer with a tablet. And she says if you have to write on a tablet that you should connect the tablet to a keyboard.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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