"Young adults are paying the price for spending hours slumped in front of the television, it was suggested, after research found that a third of 16 to 24-year-olds suffer from back pain. Research company Mintel found that young adults and pensioners are suffering from similar amounts of pain.
"The study found that 34% of 16 to 24-year-olds suffer from back ache compared with 38% of over-65s.
"Michelle Strutton, from Mintel, said: 'The high incidence of back pain in Britain’s youngsters is pretty alarming.
"'Too much time sitting weakens muscle tone and this can lead to back pain. Many of Britain’s youngsters lead a sedentary lifestyle and lack of sport may well be contributing to back pain as well as poor posture.
"'Britain's youth are spending hours at a time slumped in front of TV and computer screens, which is doing nothing to strengthen their backs.
"'Back pain is becoming one of society's main issues and accounts for a high proportion of reasons for taking sick leave.'"
A recent article in SecEd also highlighted pupils' back problems.
The Mintel research also found that "two fifths of Britons across all age groups suffer from back pain".
In April last year, Chartered Healthy Schools Physiotherapist Lorna Taylor, in conjunction with Voice, published the results of a survey of early years and primary teaching professionals that produced shocking evidence of the scale of work-related injuries in education and early years and the lack of help for sufferers, despite legislation in place to protect employees.
98% of respondents reported discomfort which they felt was work-related at some point in their career:
- 88% experienced back pain
- 73% experienced neck and shoulder pain
- 38% had been off work.
What can be done?
- Let someone know especially your head teacher/manager/employer, GP or union. Every workplace must have a reporting system in place. If you are experiencing discomfort at work, it is likely your colleagues are too. Information gathered enables the HSE and local authorities to identify where and how risks arise. Contact HSE (0845 300 9923) or Voice for further information. Don't suffer in silence!
- Dedicate staff meeting time to discuss experiences and risks. Share findings with your union health and safety representative.
- There are some practical tips to save your back (pdf) on the Voice Website (www.voicetheunion.org.uk/backs) and from Lorna and colleagues.*
[*Information about external resources does not represent an endorsement by Voice.]
On the subject of "Britain's youth" "spending hours at a time slumped in front of TV and computer screens", The Daily Mail reports that:
"Facebook and Twitter are changing the way girls speak and making them seem more aggressive, it is claimed. The websites have been credited with promoting terser sentences, which can make youngsters appear rude and disrespectful.
"Marie Clair, of the Plain English Campaign, said: 'Young people's language in general is becoming more direct in comparison to their parents and the business community because of the communication channels they're more familiar with.
"'Those fast communication channels of Facebook, email and Twitter [that] they've grown up with mean they haven't got as much time to deliberate and choose their words.
"'That's perhaps why they come across as being more aggressive. It's not intentional. Curtness tends to be short, sharp and to the point. But it's a fine line between being curt or aggressive and being straightforward.'"
"Deborah Cameron, professor of language and communication at the University of Oxford, said it could be right that teenagers' language styles in general are getting more aggressive, however there is no 'hard evidence' of this at present."
This isn't the first time that social and mobile media have come in for criticism or the issue of modern v traditional means of communications has been debated.
Ofsted's Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has said that disruption during lesson times is often down to the use of mobiles, while author Sir Terry Pratchett has claimed that tweeting and social media websites are damaging children's ability to communicate, making them unmotivated and encouraging "rough behaviour". However, the same newspaper that highlighted Sir Terry's concerns had previously reported that "text messaging 'improves children's spelling skills'".
It has also been reported that "teachers are being forced to allow pupils to catch up on their sleep during the school day amid fears rising numbers of young children staying up all night playing computer games".
In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, more than 200 academics, teachers, authors and charity leaders, including Voice's General Secretary, raised their concerns that children's well-being and mental health were being undermined by the pressures of modern life:
"Our children are subjected to increasing commercial pressure and they spend ever more time indoors with screen-based technology, rather than in outdoor activity."
This letter follows one sent five years ago that criticised politicians and the public for failing to allow children to develop properly at a young age:
"A sinister cocktail of junk food, marketing, over-competitive schooling and electronic entertainment is poisoning childhood, a powerful lobby of academics and children's experts says."
As long ago as 1994, The Professional Association of Teachers (PAT), as Voice was known then, undertook "a survey of teachers' perceptions of the effects on children of the new entertainment technologies". The Street of the Pied Piper (pdf) found that a common widespread effect was "sheer tiredness" with reports of children falling asleep at school, "having sat up into the night playing with their games consoles":
Wt do u thnk ?
Have you experienced back pain because of your work?
Do mobile phones and social media help or hinder children's communication?
Do let us know your thoughts