Workstation Ergonomics: Guidelines for Computer Use by Children

1) Always work in the Neutral Posture.
The neutral posture guidelines below apply to children and adults (so make sure that you follow them, too, as you teach your children good ergonomics). Following these guidelines will ensure that your child uses a computer in a comfortable and ergonomically correct way.

 

children at a computer workstation

Neutral Posture for Children:

  • Good upper body posture (shoulders back but relaxed—not slumping forward over the keyboard)
  • Back supported by chair (sitting back in chair with back >90° and well supported)
  • Chair seat should not compress behind the knees
  • Feet firmly on a surface for support (floor/footrest)
  • Head balanced on neck (not tilted back or too far forwards)
  • Knees at an angle >90° (i.e., angle behind the knees should be open—don't sit with legs tucked under the chair)
  • Upper arms close to body and relaxed
  • Elbow angle >90° (forearm below horizontal)
  • Wrist neutral (

Observe how your child uses the computer and then adjust the workstation arrangement so that he or she is working in the most neutral posture possible.

2) Organize a Normal Work Area
The normal work area is the space that can easily be reached by your child while he or she is sitting comfortably in the chair without her or him having to unduly bend or twist to reach something. Bring those items that your child uses most while working at the computer within this normal work area. If you child types from a text document or book, make sure that this is placed in a document holder and that it is as close to the screen as you can get it so that your child doesn't have to twist her or his head unnecessarily.

3) Check the Computer Screen Position
The computer screen should be positioned so that your child can comfortably view the screen without having to noticeably tilt her or his neck backwards or forwards. If the screen is too high, your child's neck will be tipped backwards, and if it is too low, it will be bent forwards. You should change the height and angle of the screen to avoid these postures.

4) Workstation furniture and equipment
The following furniture and equipment can help you to create the most comfortable and adjustable workstation arrangements for your child as he or she grows.

  • A comfortable chair: Use a height adjustable chair with a comfortable seat and good back support a stable desk/worksurface
  • A stable work surface: Make sure that your child is working with a computer that is placed on a stable worksurface.
  • A negative slope/tiltdown keyboard system or a height adjustable keyboard/mouse platform: Check the fit of the keyboard and mouse to the size of your child's hands. If you child has small hands, then consider using a smaller keyboard for a better fit.

5) Glare-free screen
Check that the computer screen is free from glare spots (bright lights). To do this, you may have to reposition the screen or adjust the room lighting. Make sure that there is sufficient light on any paper documents that your child is reading by using a freestanding, adjustable brightness task light.

6) Manage computer use time
The risks of any postural problems associated with computer use depend upon the length of time that your child uses the computer without taking a rest break and doing something else. You can watch the clock to regulate your child's computer use, or you can use a software program to to this. These software program usually give on-screen alerts to "take a break", and often they provide guidance on simple stretch exercises (for example, you can download free ErgoPal software that will run on a PC).

Updated on: 04/07/14
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