Is your child using their laptop unsafely?
Today I am going to share ergonomic tips for laptop users. Just like my tips for phone and tablet use, these apply to parents and children.
Just a reminder that the Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) says that exposure to screen-based activities in children younger than 2 years should be avoided.
Screens include smart phones, tablets, laptops, computer monitors and TVs.
The CPS also says that for toddlers two to four years old, screens should be limited to educational programming of less than one hour per day.
Did you know that children logging more than 2 hours of screen time per day are twice as likely to be overweight than their peers? Children who use screens in their bedroom are at even higher risk of becoming obese according to the CPS.
Occupational therapists like myself assess and treat individuals of all ages who experience symptoms from laptop use including teaching ergonomic principles!
While laptops are compact, light and portable, their design encourages awkward postures:
- When their screen is at the “right height” the keyboard is too high and that strains fingers, wrists, elbows and shoulders.
- When the keyboard is at the “right height” the screen is too low and that puts a lot of strain on your eyes and neck.
Here are some easy to put to use ergonomic laptop tips which will help you avoid related injuries:
- My rule of thumb is that if you are going to be using a laptop for more than 30 minutes, use an external keyboard, an external mouse and raise the height of the laptop screen to eye level. How do you raise your laptop on a table? Use books! Use stacks of packaged paper! If you are using a laptop for less than 30 minutes but experiencing symptoms like pain or numbness, then you always should have an external keyboard, an external mouse and raise the screen height too.
- If you’re using your laptop at a desk have a permanent set up by using a docking station that raises the laptop screen to eye level (eye height = top of screen height) with an external keyboard and external mouse. You don’t have to have a docking station though, remember that a stack of books works just find too!
- Otherwise, for really short term laptop use, sit in a comfortable supportive chair, and use a hard surface under the laptop to raise it up on your lap so you don’t have to reach down and look down so far. E.g. put a binder underneath it with the wide side of the binder at your knees. Soft supports like a pillow under the laptop should be avoided.
- If your child is carrying their laptop in a back pack, remember that the total weight of the backpack and contents should never be more than 10% of their body weight, and 5% for young children. Wheeled cases are a great option for transporting laptops.
I am hoping you found this information helpful and that you'll put it to use. If you have any questions you are always welcome to call TOTAL ABILITY at 506-847-0677 or toll-free 1-877-784-5353 in New Brunswick, Canada and we'll happy to assist you.