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Guide to Ergonomics for Children

Ergonomics is the application of scientific information concerning humans and their work. Companies typically design tasks and work loads to fit workers’ needs. You could say they make better working conditions. Particularly, it deals with workers’ stress and fatigue. This field is also known as biotechnology, human engineering, and human factors engineering.

A fairly new field of ergonomics is developing. This is known as ergonomics for children. This field deals with teaching children how to work safely with computers and other things that may be hazardous or harmful to them in the future. The computer is going to be a much-used tool in the lives of students. Attention needs to be paid to how children are introduced to and learn how to use these computers and develop good work habits.

First and foremost, students need to be positioned in relation to the keyboard/ mouse height. They should be seated with his or her feet comfortably and easily resting flat on the floor. Knees should not be higher up than hip joints, because this places stress on the lower back. The elbows should be bent 90 degrees and the upper arms relaxed at the sides of the body. Sometimes, this will require use of a higher chair, and the feet will not be supported, but the latter positioning is exceedingly more important. Wrists should be straight, and not bent down or to the side. If the student has to raise the arm to reach the mouse, then this will place stress on the muscles of the shoulder.

The mouse should be positioned next to the keyboard so it is within easy reach. The monitor should be directly in front of the student so he or she doesn’t have to crane their neck or bend it so that they can see. The top of the screen should be below eye level. Watch that the chin doesn’t poke out when viewing the screen. This posture is hard on the neck tissue.

The student should change positions frequently (every 15-20 minutes). Any position that the student stays in for a long period of time is bound to become uncomfortable. Slouching may be acceptable, if only for a few moments. Here is a general overview of good standard position: head/ neck straight, wrists straight, upper arms relaxed, and feet firmly supported on the floor. Also, it is good to get up and stretch or do something active at least every 30 minutes to an hour. This helps maintain steady circulation so the muscles and tissues can get the nutrients they need.

Make sure that the students relax their eyes ever so often. If their eyes feel dry or uncomfortable, get them checked by a doctor, or decrease the amount of light at the work station. Make sure that there is no glare on the screen.

Make sure that the student doesn’t work (mainly typing) for too long. This could cause problems in the future, such as joint stiffness, arthritis, back and neck problems, etc.

TIP: Some students may find a laptop easier to use, because of the smaller keyboard. The same positioning principals should apply to the use of laptops. For students with larger hands using laptops, simply plug in a regular keyboard or mouse.

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