The New Normal in the Digital Age

The New Normal in the Digital Age

As a health professional and a parent, I thought the beginning of the school year was a good time to go over some healthy media habits that will protect children’s vision, hearing and musculoskeletal development. Screens are here to stay so we need to interact with them in the most comfortable and beneficial way, the “new normal in the digital age.” Make it a positive change and lead by example.

If you want to look up screen-time guidelines go to this link on Media and Children from the AAP (American Academy of Paediatrics).  An increase in screen time results in sacrificing another activity be it sleep, family time or physical activity.

More and more, as physios, we are seeing kids for back and neck pain. Audiologist and optometrist friends also anecdotally report they are treating more kids with noise-induced hearing loss and short-sightedness. We have kids who are so chronically tired that they are not performing to their academic or sporting or social potential and, developing musculoskeletal problems from inappropriate screen use.

It’s concerning so, I thought I’d share some tips from a great book I am currently reading.

Tips for better sleep:

  • Replace the phone alarm with an alarm clock so phones aren’t in bedrooms waking them up with notifications/updates etc.
  • Don’t use the bed for using devices/doing homework etc as the body/mind associates bed as a place of work or active brain instead of sleep
  • Get into a good getting ready for sleep routine- screens go to sleep (ideally 90 minutes before humans but even 30 mins will help), wind down with a bath, reading a book, chilled music whatever works and do these things in the same order at the same time each night so the body learns the signs of “oh, we’re getting ready for bed”

Tips for healthy vision:

  • 20/20/20/20 rule- take frequent breaks to reduce the load on the eyes. Every 20 mins of screen use, take 20 second break to blink 20 times and look at something more than 20 feet (6m) away and do something physically active for 20 seconds (eg jump on spot)
  • Distance from screen- first line of computer or laptop screen is just below eye height and 40-70 cm away (bit closer for smaller screens)
  • Preferably use a bigger screen than the phone to watch movies, TV shows etc.

Tips for your bodies:

  • Use a separate keyboard & mouse & a laptop stand to get the laptop screen to the right height when using for prolonged periods eg nightly homework.
  • Use a beanbag to support tablets at the right height when watching movies etc so wrist doesn’t get sore from prolonged holding.
  • Use different fingers for swiping, scrolling etc so all of the tendon’s get used, not just the index finger or thumb
  • The 20/20/20/20 rule is good for bodies too
  • Spend some time on your tummy to watch device
  • Get your workspace set up correctly for your body dimensions eg if using a desk, use a good chair so your feet are flat on the floor, knees slightly lower than hips, wrists slightly lower than elbows when fingers on the keyboard. Here’s a good reference for an ergonomic setup.

Tips for healthy hearing:

  • Use over ear headphones or noise cancelling as these cancel out some of the competing background noise
  • Set maximum volume levels if possible
  • Limit headphone use to less than 1 hour/day
  • Educate kids to be careful when walking around traffic with headphones.

And parents, you don’t get off adopting these habits too- they’ll be good for your health and you’ll be good role models for your kids. They copy what they see. I know the good sleep habits will be the trickiest for me to adopt. What will be your biggest challenge?

Ceridwen Way – Physiotherapist

Sources and further reading

Goodwin, K Healthy Habits for a Digital Life. Chapter 5 2017, Mental Wellbeing in the Digital Age: Nurturing Young Minds: Generation Next, Hachette Australia, Sydney
Manocha, R (Ed), 2017, Mental Wellbeing in the Digital Age: Nurturing Young Minds: Generation Next, Hachette Australia, Sydney
Media and Children
Ergonomic setup


Our Response to Covid-19

This page is up to date to our best knowledge, however, this is a rapidly evolving situation so we apologise for any potential delay in updating this information.

We want to reassure all our patients that we are following stringent infection control procedures in our clinic, and screen all people coming into the clinic, to exclude any patients that have any signs or symptoms consistent with Covid-19, as well as screening any patients that should be in isolation ie recently returned from overseas, or have been advised to isolate due to recent exposure with a known Covid-19 patient.

All our staff have now completed the Department of Health Covid-19 Infection Control Training.

What are we doing to minimise risk?

  • Screening patients for risk factors over the phone or through text messages before they attend appointments. Those with risk factors or symptoms are advised not to attend & to seek medical advice.
  • Hand sanitiser station at the front of the building must be used before you enter.
  • Following stringent infection control measures within the clinic. This includes
    • Disinfecting all beds, door handles, EFTPOS machine before and after each patient use.
    • Linen changed between each patient and commonly touched surfaces through the practice are cleaned regularly throughout the day.
    • Minimising the distances between clients in the waiting room- some chairs are outside undercover.
  • We have advised our team members not to come to work if they have cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • We are following all Department of Health recommendations for our type of business.

On the 30th March 2020 – the Australian government issued a statement that “People aged over 70, aged over 60 with pre-existing conditions, or Indigenous people aged over 50 should stay home wherever possible for their own protection.”

The decision to come in for physiotherapy treatment really is an individual one – if you feel that your treatment is medically necessary, and are comfortable with the risks of leaving your home and coming to physiotherapy, then rest assured that when you attend our physiotherapy clinic, we are following our strict infection control processes and doing everything we can to minimise your risk whilst in our care. However, we completely understand if you are not comfortable with coming in for treatment.

TELEHealth Consultations

We are offering telehealth consults and home visits (where suitable) for patients who cannot attend our clinic.

Read more about TELEhealth Consultations here.

Staying Healthy

  • Wash your hands often (and for 20 seconds) with soap and water
  • Cough into your elbow or use a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Social distancing practices – Avoiding close contact with others, such as touching, including shaking hands
  • Limit contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you are sick and encourage employees to stay home when sick
  • Get 7-8 hours’ sleep a night to help your immune system stay strong
Please stay safe and take care of each other!

We are monitoring the situation very closely and will make adjustments to our business as we are further informed. Our priority is the health & well being of our patients and our staff. Thanks for your understanding.

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