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Lesson: 7

Computer Relate Health Problems - For Kids

Previous : Lesson 6 - Home

Adults use computers on a lot of jobs, unfortunately, many college students and adults have been hurt while using them. Using a computer can affect different parts of your body, like your fingers, hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, back, and eyes. While computers look safe enough, there are some dangers that are good to know about, and you will want to avoid them as much as possible. Read on for some hints on staying healthy at the computer.

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Little Bodies

Kid's bodies are a lot smaller than much of the furniture and equipment used with computers. If you have to use adult-sized chairs and desks at home and in school, you may be uncomfortable sitting and have awkward arm and head positions.

There are some things you can do to feel more comfortable and protect your body at the same time. Let us see what can go wrong and how we can fix it!

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Sitting

Your body does not move much when using the computer, so you want to make sure you are sitting comfortably in your chair.

 

Fitting the Chair to You

If you use adult-sized chairs that raise you up where your feet don't touch the ground and you can not sit back against the backrest without sticking you feet straight out, then it surely does not fit you well!

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Pillows, pads, boxes, and big books can be used to help make the chair fit you better. If your feet don't reach the floor, use a footrest, or ask if you can stack up some thick books or a box under your feet. Pillows and pads can take up all that extra seat room that your small body does not need. This way you have something to lean back against and your feet to rest on.

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Fitting the Chair to the Computer

If you have a chair that fits you, but the computer is on a table that is too high, pillows and pads can also be used to help you sit higher if you need to. If that does not work, try a larger chair or maybe a smaller computer table can be found.

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The computer keyboard should be about as high as your belly -- not chest or shoulder height where you have to reach up to use it. Your arms, shoulder, and neck can get sore fast if the keyboard is too high for you!

 

Perfect Fit!

If you don't have any of the problems above, you may be one of the lucky kids that actually have a chair and computer table that fits! Some schools are making computer stations just the right size for kids, some are even adjustable -- Imagine that!

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Computer Slump

Even with the perfect chair and computer table, you need to remember to lean back in your chair and rest on the backrest when you are typing. Don't slouch or lean forward, as this is bad on your back! Get into the habit of keeping a good back posture now and it will be happy for a long time.

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But this is not the only thing you need to watch . . .

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Keyboarding

When your use the keyboard, keep it close in front of you. Don't put it so far back that you need to reach forward to use it.

 

Straight Shot

Try to keep your wrists straight and level with your lower arms while you type. Avoid bending your wrists too much as it makes it harder for your fingers to work and could hurt your wrist over time. Some kids like wrist rests in front of keyboards to help keep their wrists straight, but don't rest on them while typing.

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Natural Curve

Your fingers have a natural curve, like a rainbow or waterfall. Allow your fingers to keep their curve as you type -- don't stretch and flatten them too much while typing.

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Home Stretch

If you know how to rest on the home row and touch type, remember to move the whole hand to reach far-away keys . . . don't make your fingers stretch too far from home. Sometimes keyboards are too big for small fingers, move the hand to the keys and keep your fingers happy.

 

Thor's Hammer vs. Butterfly Dance

Type lightly. You don't need to pound on the keys like thunder . . . a light touch will work fine -- think of your fingers as butterflies dancing on the keys.

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Mousing

Almost all computers have mice now. They are nice to point with and move things around on the computer, but you need to watch how you use them -- otherwise they might turn around and bite you.

 

Squeeze Play

Some kids like to hold the mouse tightly. However, like hitting keyboard keys too hard, it is not a good idea. Use a light touch on the mouse while holding it as well as clicking its button(s). Too much force on the mouse tires the hands and arms using it -- a form of mouse bite!

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Computer mice may be too big for little kid hands. You might try looking for a smaller mouse or use a trackball that does not need to be held, and you can also use several fingers at once to move the ball.

 

Straight Shot

Like when using the keyboard, try to keep your wrists straight and level while mousing around!

Wrist rests can be helpful here as well. Many mouse pads come with built-in wrist rests to help keep straight wrists.

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Vision

 

The Window to Your Computer

Besides your keyboard and mouse, there is also the computer monitor that you need to keep an eye on. In fact, that is probably about all you are looking at when you are using the computer -- and that is where a whole other set of problems start . . .

 

Left, Right, High, Low . . . Where does the Monitor Go?

The computer monitor (screen) should be right in front of you and a little lower than your eyes. By having the monitor off to the side or too high or low, you can end up being a real headache . . . not to mention that the neck and shoulders will surely hurt as well.

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Remember that where the eyes go, the body follows. If you have to look to the side, up, or down, then your head and neck turn as well. Having the monitor too low can also cause you to slump in your chair as well.

Sometimes the monitor sits on the computer case, so by moving the computer case to the side, the monitor can be lowered. If you need to raise the monitor, a few books underneath it will usually do the trick. There is also the option of adjusting yourself -- maybe you can adjust the height of your chair until you are in the right place.

 

That Blinding Light

Windows and indoor lights can make it harder to use computer monitors. It is hard on the eyes to try to adapt to see the monitor when there is a bright light that can also be seen at the same time (direct glare). There should be about the same amount of light coming from the screen and the area you can see around the computer monitor. Moving the computer so that windows and lights are not in front of you, or putting a shade over windows and lights, can help to avoid this problem.

 

Washout

Another problem with light is that it can come from behind you and bounce off of the computer screen (indirect glare). When this happens it becomes harder to read what is on the screen. Moving the light or the computer may also be possible to solve the problem. Otherwise, a monitor hood or glare screen may be needed.

 

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Break Away

Time can pass very fast when you are at the computer, or playing video games. It is important to do lots of different things during the day. Our bodies are not intended to hit keyboard, mice, and game controller keys for hours straight. Take a break and get away from the computer about every 30 minutes or so -- whether or not you feel an ache or pain. And if you do feel an ache or pain, that's a sure clue that you need to stop for a little while! Make sure to listen to your body's signals . . . it may be a cry for help!

Get up and move around for a few minutes, some ideas are:

  • Take a quick walk around the house or apartment
  • Call a friend and see how her work on the computer is going
  • If you're hungry, grab a snack to give you some energy

Anything you do is OK, as long as it gets you to rest the muscles you've been using and use the muscles you've been resting.

Pay special attention to your eyes, too: if they hurt or your eyelids twitch, you should stop for a bit. Looking away from the monitor every once in a while and focusing on something far away for a few seconds should give your eye muscles enough of a workout to keep them feeling OK.

 

Real World

Cyberspace and other computer uses can be educational and fun, but nothing compares to adventures and activities in the "real world". Don't get lost in cyberspace . . . get out and explore the world around you.

 

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Health

Eating good foods and exercise are great ways to stay healthy. The healthier you are and the more you vary your activities throughout the day will help in avoiding problems from using the computer.

Taking care of your body while at the computer means you'll feel better - and be able to work and play better.

 

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