According to a recent New York Times article, more than 70 percent of kids in elementary schools use computers. Frankly, that number seems a little low to me. Where are these schools where kids don’t have access to computers? Anyway, computer use is more the norm than ever before. As a matter of fact, there’s increased discussion on whether or not cursive handwriting should even be taught to children anymore, as the need to write in a flowery hand seems to wane as the need to practice keyboarding increases.
The Downside to Technology
As increasingly younger children are spending a good amount of time in front of their computers, Doctors of Chiropractic are seeing more young patients than ever before who are suffering from the effects of computer use. Many issues like carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries that were previously only seen in adults are being diagnosed in younger and younger children. What makes these injuries even sadder is that most, if not all, of them could have been prevented by practicing good computer ergonomics.
What We Can Do to Protect Our Children
The number one thing that needs to be considered before setting up a computer workstation for kids is to realize that their bodies are smaller than adults and their work area should address this. Not only can a workstation that’s designed improperly result in repetitive motion injuries, it can lead to poor posture habits that last a lifetime.
There’s no need to insist that your kids unplug from technology. Instead, you can reduce your child’s chances of suffering from a painful injury that could potentially disable them. Just follow these tips provided by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) to keep your kids pain-free:
- If it’s at all possible, try to have a separate workstation for children and adults in your home. If you choose to share an area, make sure that it can be modified for each child’s use.
- Show your child how to position the computer monitor so the top of the screen is at their eye level. If the monitor can’t be moved, have the child sit on firm pillows to reach the right height.
- The chair at the workstation should fit your child’s needs. That means making sure that their lower back has support, and that the chair has arm supports that are able to rest at a 70-135 degree angle to the keyboard.
- Keep the mouse close enough so that your child doesn’t have to reach or hold their arm away from the body for long periods of time.
- Limit your child’s time on the computer and make sure that they take frequent stretching breaks. Nobody is meant to sit for hours at a time in front of a computer screen, and that goes double for children.
With a little forethought, you can help design a computer workstation that’s good for your kids. The next time you’re at your child’s school, take a look at their computer area to make sure it’s ergonomically correct. You can also talk to your chiropractor about how your kids can use computers and other technology in a manner that’s safe for their growing bodies.
Photo credit: 03 My decluttered, ergonomic, and healthy Workstation by Joy Mystic, Marco demonstrating an ergonomic position to use the iPad by Alessandro Vernet. Used under a Creative Commons license.
This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.