Who is the millennial? Generation Y? They are a group of persons born between the 1980’s and early 2000’s, and are generally characterized as digitally savvy, easily influenced and interested in the new and novel. They are well-connected and, often, technology can be central to the way they live, work and play. Yet, they may not account for the impact that technology has on their health, including their musculoskeletal system. We are only now starting to better understand the impact of this and how it may be a risk factor for MSK conditions, including back and neck pain.
The impacts of prolonged use of technology will likely not be well understood until decades from now. However, we are starting to see the impact it is having on the MSK health of millenials.
Here are a few points to consider:
- The average adult glances at their smartphone5 times a day, in contrast to an average of 109 times a day for a millenial.
- It is estimated that 60% of adults spend five or more hours a day in front of an electronic device, but interestingly 40% of millennials spend over nine hours in front of an electronic device.
- The use of computers, tablets, and mobile devices may result in increased hunching which can lead to neck and back pain.
- “Text neck” was coined to refer to the prolonged use of mobile devices and resulting neck pain.
Technological advancements have led to incredible progress, but our consumption of these have led to inadvertent problems for our health and wellbeing. As mentioned, the millennial generation’s use of such technologies may be linked to an in increase in sedentary lifestyles and postural problems which can negatively impact the MSK system.
In fact, the potential increase in the prevalence of MSK conditions from the excessive use of technology in conjunction with a sedentary lifestyle can prove detrimental to the body. It was reported that 84% of surveyed millennials in the UK experienced back pain. Estimated projections revealed that younger workers lost on average 1.5 or more days than older workers. The lack of awareness of the potential impact of poor lifestyle choices among millennials may be leading to a sharp increase of MSK conditions among younger individuals. As the individuals age, it is presumed that the impact of prior injuries and poor choices may have a profound impact, and may inadvertently tax the healthcare system.
To minimize the potential impact of this, Canadians are urged to start to mind the use of technology and take measures to counter-act the risks by adopting healthy lifestyle habits, including daily exercise.
Here are a few tips to follow to manage the risk:
- Take designated breaks from technology (a few hours a day dedicated to other activities)
- Take the time to be physically active each day
- Be more conscious of your posture
- Regularly visit your chiropractor to prevent or manage MSK conditions
It’s important that we educate millennials as much as possible on the impact of technology on their MSK system. Looking ahead, they may be facing some serious MSK conditions because of their reliance on technology. Your chiropractor can advise you on the best way to improve your MSK system and prevent MSK conditions down the road based on your current lifestyle.
1Una Newman, et. al., “Reaching New Segments – The Millennial Generation,” Healthcare Strategy and Market Development.
2PHS Chiropractic, “Is Technology Causing Millennials a Lifetime of Pain?”
3Alex Mathew, “Iposture Blamed for Increase Back Problem among Young Adults,” December 3, 2013.