We all know that screens are bad for our eyes, brains, this, that and everything else, but it turns out that technology impacts our biology much deeper than we think.

If you’re reading this from the comfort of your couch, the bustle of a breakfast spot or a relaxing waiting room, the concept of ‘ fight or flight’ might feel pretty foreign – like something from an age where people drew on cave walls and were only just getting acquainted with the concept of fire. But it turns out that our smartphones, iPads, laptops and TVs affect the primitive parts of our brain that are important for our survival. How, you may ask? And why does it matter?

“The stimulation we receive from screens is interpreted as a ‘threat’, and immediately stimulates the fight/ flight/freeze response,” says chiropractor Jana Judd from Hands On Health Chiropractic. “Our body’s response is to prepare for ‘attack’ by putting our head and shoulders forward ready to run and fight, and when we do this for long periods this can have adverse effects.”

For example, as our ribs cramp and our lungs become enclosed we impair our breathing, leaving us unable to optimally oxygenate our bodies, which can in turn affect our organ systems. The position of rolled shoulders and head forward for long periods creates a big strain on the muscles in the neck and shoulders. And when the sympathetic nervous system is ring like this, we even suppress our digestive and immune systems.

“It’s easier to see terrible posture in older children – slumped body, head forward, shoulders rounded – but in younger children it’s even more important to watch for behaviours.”

Younger children haven’t developed the ability to down-regulate the brain input they are receiving from screens, so they operate on a more emotional or survival level instead of logic and control. The result? Meltdowns, wetting the bed, sleep issues and aggression – and very unhappy parents. But that’s not all. It turns out that screens often affect the part of the brain that helps with regulation itself, creating the ‘zombie’ type scenario that many parents see.

So if technology is affecting our primitive instincts, maybe we should get back to basics and step away from the smartphones – at least for a few hours every day.



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