News Local

‘Tech Neck’ targeted as kids use devices

By Eric MacKenzie

Vancouver company Medical Wearable Solutions’ EyeForcer makes children sit with proper posture while using a mobile device or tablet, or their game will turn off. 
SUBMITTED

Vancouver company Medical Wearable Solutions’ EyeForcer makes children sit with proper posture while using a mobile device or tablet, or their game will turn off. SUBMITTED

As children spend increasing amounts of time hunched over tablets and mobile devices, medical professionals are noticing posture problems.

But a Vancouver company has created a new product meant to stop children whose bones are still growing from developing “tech neck.”

EyeForcer — a creation of B.C. company Medical Wearable Solutions — pairs Bluetooth-enabled eyeglass frames with an electronic device, warning or even shutting down the device when the user is in a harmful posture.

Dr. Vahid Sahiholnasab, one of the company’s founders, said he first came across tech neck — which has also been called Gameboy Disease — in one of his own children.

“I noticed that her spine and posture were poor, she had been complaining of neck pain, which was unusual for someone of her age,” said Sahiholnasab. “Then I started doing some research and I noticed this is becoming a more common problem.”

Since children’s bones are still malleable, consistently poor posture can lead to chronic issues when bones become more rigid, said Sahiholnasab, adding that it’s been more than a century since children have been suffering herniated discs at such a wide rate.

“The last time (it was as frequent) was during the Industrial Revolution in England when kids were working in factories,” he said. “But it’s coming back again because kids are basically hunching forward, making their spinal tissue soft and poor.”

When EyeForcer is used, the child must wear the glasses in order for their device to work. The user receives a warning each time their upper spine tilts forward more than 30 degrees. Once reaching a predetermined number of warnings set by a parent, the device will shut down the child’s game.

The program can also be used to limit the amount of screen time altogether, or provide rewards and punishments for good posture through the extension or reduction of playing time. EyeForcer works with iOS and Android, though the iOS version does not have the capability to shut down a device completely.

Sahiholnasab said his own children learned proper posture using EyeForcer, and now subconsciously sit in the correct position without the program.

The company hopes to bring EyeForcer to the market in November. It is currently running a Kickstarter page where advance orders can be placed.