These 4 NTU Students Feel Your (Neck) Pain, And Are Taking A Stand To Help You Correct It

Have you ever heard of ‘Text Neck’ Syndrome?

It’s an injury in your neck and spine due to your prolonged leaning forward when using your mobile devices. It is not an issue widely acknowledged, but as it is, the Syndrome is an issue we cannot afford to sweep under the rug any longer

Did you know that with just a 30° forward head tilt, you are actually applying 18 kg of stress on your spine? As muscle and joint damage are only observed in the long run, the ‘Text Neck’ is a problem that goes unchecked.

For their Final Year Project (FYP), 4 undergraduates – Fiona Ang, Dannie Seet, Hannah Wong and Joanne Tan from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at NTU launched a campaign to raise awareness about the ‘Text Neck’ Syndrome.

The team carried out a survey of 504 individuals between the ages of 21-29, and found that 87% of them spend 3-4 hours a day on their devices, and a whopping 60% experience neck and back pains afterwards.

Image Credit: The Stand Corrected Team

Standing Corrected

On 11 February 2017, the team launched a campaign both offline and online on Facebook, with the aim of educating the public on ‘Text Neck’ Syndrome.

Aptly named ‘Stand Corrected‘, the team set up an experiential booth along Orchard Road from 12pm – 10pm, shifting locations every 2 hours from Ion Orchard towards 313 Somerset. With an interactive booth, they hoped to bring across the message that humans are regressing as technology progresses.

Image Credit: The Stand Corrected Team

A crowd favourite involved a ‘Pay with a Stretch’ charging station where passerbys could charge their phones after doing a simple stretch routine.

Image Credit: The Stand Corrected Team 

The campaign was a success, and saw great support from the weekend crowds.

The team also held a booth at the South Spine area on NTU campus to share the message of ‘Text Neck’ Syndrome amongst key sufferers of the ailment – university students.

Image Credit: The Stand Corrected Team
Image Credit: The Stand Corrected Team

Standing Tall And Proud

“We decided on this topic because technology in Singapore is at an all-time high […] We were also thinking of the drawbacks and repercussions of [its] widespread use.”

Upon embarking on this project, team member Fiona Ang admits that the team had been “shocked” about how dangerous the Syndrome was and yet, many remain oblivious on how their seemingly insignificant habits could irreparably damage their spinal health in the future.

“We knew at once that we were on to something important, and that we needed to shed as much light as possible on Text Neck Syndrome.”

Image Credit: The Stand Corrected Team

Working together with Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and The Chiropractic Association (Singapore), the team also gleaned professional insights into ‘Text Neck’ Syndrome.

As noted by Dr. Terrence Yap, Vice-President of The Chiropractic Association (Singapore), chronic neck-and-back symptoms that used to kick in at 60 years are now starting to rear their ugly heads amongst people between 30-40 years olds.

While the team’s key audience are young adults in their 20s, Fiona shares that they are also hoping to reach out to people of all ages. Children are also a key target group, as secondary school students (or even younger) are the first ones to be exposed to mobile devices.

Surmounting Obstacles  

“Like all campaigns, we faced certain obstacles along the way. Getting the public to see Text Neck syndrome as an urgent issue was one of the main obstacles we faced during our campaign.”

Leaning forward is a subconscious thing people do, and so the team needed to devise innovative ways to share their urgent warning while at the same time, not scare people away.

When they started their mobile booth at Orchard Road, the initial uptake was low, and the team had to make the first move to approach people. However, once the crowds had built, their allure snowballed to others.

“Seeing a big group of them, ranging from toddlers to teenagers to their parents, all huddled together following our stretch routine was really heartwarming and memorable for us.”

Image Credit: The Stand Corrected Team

Fiona also shares how they faced logistics and manpower challenges for their events but they solved that by engaging friends to help, who in turn, became their Ambassadors as well.

Future Plans

“It’s been an incredible journey. From brainstorming in [our] formative stages to seeing our ideas come to life – it’s simply surreal. The journey has been challenging [but] seeing people relating to our campaign and being enlightened of Text Neck was our goal, and we are really pleased to be have been able to reach out to them in our own way.”

One point that was brought up with the team was how the campaign could be continued past their FYP period. ‘Text Neck’ Syndrome is not a problem isolated to the now, and so this pesky little thing called Graduation could throw a wrench in the project.

Image Credit: The Stand Corrected Team

Fiona shares that for now, their campaign will wrap up by early March, but they are looking to pass on the information to sponsors and partners. In addition, they plan to reach out to the next FYP cohort to see if there would be any interested takers in continuing ‘Stand Corrected‘.

In the meantime, Fiona shares that they have another upcoming public exhibition at Jurong West Library from 18 – 28 February, so if you’re interested to find out more about ‘Text Neck’ Syndrome, or even to show your support for the team, you know where to find them!

Featured Image Credit: The Stand Corrected Team

Also Read: These NTU Students Developed An App So That S’pore Migrant Workers Can Have Safe Homes Too

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