Pain-Free Computers for Kids
Reported August 2006
NEW YORK (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- These days, teenagers use computers for hours every day. But over time, all that logging on may be putting the kind of strains on their bodies that used to only be seen in adults. If your teens are on the computer all the time now, these new techniques may keep them pain-free later in life.
Computers are the name of the game for today's tech-savvy teens. Most of them have been logging on since they were pre-K! Experts say many of these surfers spend too much time on the computer every day, so their bodies are paying the price with symptoms like finger pain and neck cramps.
"Kids who use the computers everyday are twice as likely to have symptoms -- the kind of symptoms that when we see them as adults are warning signs of disability," ergonomist Robin Mary Gillespie, Ph.D., tells Ivanhoe.
She says in a survey of 500 people, ages 12 to 18, the most common complaint of daily computer users was neck and shoulder pain. To avoid pain, the mouse needs to be as close to your body as possible. Put a bridge over the number keypad so the mouse is closer to you.
Also, monitors are often too high for kids, causing neck discomfort from looking up. So, lower the monitor to keep your neck straight, or use a chair where you can adjust the height. Gillespie says laptop users should use an external keyboard and mouse to control the distance between the screen and keyboard.
"The final thing that we look at a lot is the bending of the hands," Gillespie says. "This would be the sort of thing that leads to carpal tunnel syndrome." To avoid this, type with your hands as flat as possible. Don't put up the little feet on the keyboard, and take breaks every 20 minutes.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
Robin Gillespie, Ph.D.
New York, NY
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Santa Monica, CA 90406
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