Children Need to Learn and Practice Good Computer and Electronics Ergonomics, Too
(Adapted from American Chiropractic Association consumer health tips)

Does your child frequently complain of neck pain, back pains, wrist or arm pains, shoulder pains even though they do not play a sport? If they spend a lot of time on computers/laptops or with electronic games, smart phones or ipads it might be due to their posture while using the computer/electronic device.

As more students use computers or electronic devices, we are seeing more young patients suffering from the effects of working at desks/tables that are either designed for adults or are poorly designed for children…or worse, while sitting in abnormal postures on their beds or the floor. Children and young adults can suffer from repetitive motion injuries (RMI) such as carpal tunnel syndrome and chronic pain in the hands, back, neck and shoulders. “Text Neck” (a painful condition of the neck and upper back) is also becoming rampant.

As part of our care, we teach children proper ergonomics for computer workstations and electronic devices. If a young person does not learn good computer/electronic ergonomics during their developing years, it can have harmful physical effects that can last a lifetime.

What can you do?

To reduce the possibility of your child suffering painful and possibly disabling injuries, here are some tips:
• If children and adults in your home share the same computer/laptop work area, make certain that the area can be modified for each child’s use.
• Position the computer monitor so the top of the screen is at or below the child’s eye level. This can be accomplished by having the child sit on firm pillows or in an adjustable height chair to reach the desired height.
• Make sure the chair fits the child correctly. An ergonomic back cushion, or a rolled-up towel can be placed in the small of the child’s back for added back support. The chair should have arm supports so that elbows are resting within a 70- to 135-degree angle to the computer/laptop keyboard.
• Wrists should be held in a neutral position while typing – not angled up or down.
• The mouse pad should be close to the keyboard so your child doesn’t have to reach or hold the arm away from the body. Arms should be resting on the desk surface or chair arm when using the mouse.
• The child’s knees should be positioned at an approximate 90 to 120 degree angle without their feet dangling. To accomplish this, feet can be placed on a foot rest, box, stool or similar object.
• Reduce eye strain by making sure there is adequate lighting and that there is no glare on the monitor screen. Use an antiglare screen if necessary.
• Limit your child’s computer time and make sure he or she takes periodic stretch breaks. Set a timer for a half hour to schedule the stretch breaks. Stretches can include: placing hands in a praying position and squeezing them together for 10 seconds and then pointing them downward and squeezing them together for 10 seconds; spreading fingers apart and then closing them one by one; standing and wrapping arms around the body and turning all the way to the left and then all the way to the right.
• Your child’s muscles need adequate hydration to work properly and avoid injury. Encourage your child to drink four 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Carbonated beverages, juices and other sweet drinks are not a substitute.
• Urge your child’s school or PTA officials to provide education on correct computer ergonomics and to install ergonomically correct workstations.
• To avoid text neck, teach your youngster how to hold the cell phone or pad up in front of them instead of looking down at the device. If your child watches movies or reads in bed on their device, you can get an inexpensive device holder at office supply stores like Staples that look somewhat like a music stand. They do not take up much room and the electronic device can be propped on it so your child does not need to be looking down to see their device.
If the pains continue after you have set up your child’s ergonomics properly, a chiropractic check up is in order. We have gentle treatments that can be effective for children. We can also teach proper ergonomics and stretching exercises to ease tight muscles. Correcting spinal problems now will go a long way to supporting your child’s health throughout their life. To get started, simply call today to schedule an appointment for your child with Dr. Ellen.

If you are suffering some repetitive stress pains yourself, like carpal tunnel or neck or upper back pains or elbow pains, call to schedule with either Dr. Steve, or Dr. Ellen.