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Little Kids

Can screens really cause headaches in kids?

Screen use has been linked to head and neck pain. Here’s how to determine if screens are the problem and ensure safer viewing.

Can screens really cause headaches in kids?

Photo: iStockphoto

My kid complains of neck pain and headaches. Could they be from screen use? Headaches and neck pain are common complaints, especially in older children. In some children, they do arise from screen use, as we tend to pitch our heads closer to screens as we watch. Minimizing screen time to less than two hours a day is ideal, as is getting plenty of exercise. When your kids are looking at a device, check how they’re positioned—they should not have to look too far up or down, and their spine should remain neutral. This might mean setting up a computer station that fits your child’s size or making sure your child moves to a more comfortable spot when they’re looking at a tablet or smartphone.

Another common cause of headaches is vision problems. Have your child’s vision tested once a year to ensure their eyesight is strong.

While poor sleep, too much screen time, anxiety, vision problems and a family history of headaches are the most common factors that come into play when a child’s head hurts, it’s often hard to pinpoint exactly what is causing the pain. Headaches are rarely serious, but see your doctor or go to the emergency room if your child has a sudden or worsening headache or neck pain, especially if it’s accompanied by a fever, as this could be a sign of meningitis.

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