This one is a little off track from what I usually blog about but I felt this was worth the read. Some very interesting information for parents 🙂

Computer games and the Internet make kids prime candidates for repetitive strain injuries!

Adults often use computers for work and many of them have ended up injured. 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 avoid.

Kid’s bodies are a lot smaller than much of the furniture and equipment used with computers. If they use adult sized chairs and desks at home and in school they may be uncomfortable sitting and have awkward arm and head positions. There are some things that can be done to make kids feel more comfortable and protect their bodies at the same time:

Fitting the Chair (WSIB)
Adult sized chairs cause feet not to touch the ground and backs not to lean against the backrest. Pillows, pads, boxes and big books can be used to help make the chair fit better. Stack up articles to use as a footrest and pillows and pads can be used to allow them to have something to lean back against. Pillows can also be used to help the child sit up higher if the computer table is too tall for them. The computer keyboard should be about as high as their belly – not chest or shoulders – as this can cause injury if they have to reach to use the keyboard.

Computer Slump (WSIB)
Even with the perfect chair and computer table, you need to remind your kids to lean back in the chair and rest on the backrest when using the computer. Don’t slouch or lean forward as this is hard on their back.

Keyboarding to Healthier Hands (WSIB)
When using the keyboard, keep it close in front of you so you don’t have to reach. Keep wrists straight and level with lower arms when typing. Some kids like rests in front of keyboards to help keep wrists straight but make sure they are not resting on them while typing. Allow fingers to keep their natural curve, avoid stretching or flattening them too much. If the keyboard is too big for their fingers, move the hand to the keys instead of trying to reach the letters by stretching and remember to always type lightly!

Mousing (without Mickey) (WSIB)
You need to watch how you use your mouse – otherwise they may turn around and bite you! Some kids like to hold the mouse too tightly. Remember that a light touch on the mouse both holding and clicking can help avoid tiring the arms. If the mouse is too big for their hands you might try looking for a smaller mouse or use one with a trackball that does not need to be held and can use several fingers to move the ball. Also, try to keep wrists straight and level when mousing. Wrist rests can be helpful here. Many mouse pads come with built-in wrist rests to help keep wrists straight.

The Window to Your Computer (WSIB)
The computer monitor should be right in front and a little lower than the eyes. By having the monitor off to the side or too high or low, you can end up with headaches, neck and shoulder pain. If you have to have the monitor anywhere other than directly in front try to turn your whole body instead of just your head. Pay special attention to the eyes: if they hurt or the eyelids twitch, remember to take a break.

Break Away
Time can pass very quickly when on the computer. It is important to do many different things during the day so remember to take a break at least every thirty minutes or so – whether or not your feel an ache or pain. If you do feel an ache or pain, that’s a sure clue that you need to stop for a while. Make sure to listen to the body’s signals – it may be a cry for help!