Recently, there was a WhatsApp message that featured four youngsters sitting together totally engrossed in their mobiles. The message indicated that they were conversing in GenNext style – no talking, only texting. While it was forwarded, a hidden message was almost missed: Are we readying a generation that will end up with posture disorders, arthritis or cervical spondylosis?

Doctors said that if this was a habit or routine, it would affect the general health of kids. Experts in the West have already begun talking of text neck syndrome and the influences of this addiction on teenage brains. Well known neuropsychiatrist Daniel Siegel in his book `Brainstorm: The power and purpose of the teenage brain’ said that between 12 and 24, the brain changes in `important and often maddening’ ways. This development influences teenage behaviour.

“There is a huge problem among our kids who are busy viewing things on screen rather than talking to others around them. If you notice their posture, the neck is always bent while they text, chat or play games. Instead of talking, they are busy messaging,” said Dr Sachidananda Kamath, former national president of Indian Association of Paediatrics.

Posture problems lead to a strain on the spine. When hands remain in the same position for a long time and only the fingers are used, it leads to numbness in certain parts of the body . When body muscles are not used, degeneration sets in, said doctors. Ayurveda physicians – who end up handling many of the patients who first opt for a pain alleviation treatment – said that ever since the laptop had replaced the desktop, even children have begun to use them at home. “There’s no way one can completely bunk these machines. In children and youngsters, some control must be put in place,” said senior physician Dr Devidas Vellodi.

 Initially when eyesight problems were reported in the software industry, it was written off as a non-issue.”Today computer vision syndrome is an accepted fact and technology was upgraded to lessen the damage caused by monitors. Now, mobile has replaced the computer. In youngsters, astigmatism and short sight are the potential threats because of the fine print and continuous screen viewing. Within five years we will know the impact of mobiles on these kids and youngsters,” said Dr Saikumar, senior ophthalmologist at Giridhar eye hospital.