Now more than ever, kids are spending an increasing amount of time sitting in front of computer screens as they surf the web, check Facebook, watch YouTube, or complete school work. All that tech-time is taking a toll on teens however, as recent research shows that kids who spend too much time sitting are at risk of developing neck and back pain. Studies suggest that children with back pain often develop chronic problems.
Fortunately, new research suggests that teens can avoid back pain with proper ergonomics.
Increased computer usage is known to lead to a number of health complaints such as headaches, neck aches, and shoulder pain. Ergonomics has been suggested as a way to reduce that pain, though more research must be done to confirm the effectiveness of ergonomic training or the use of computer peripherals – such a exterior keyboards or notebook risers – on reducing musculoskeletal complaints.
An ongoing study has begun investigating the impact of ergonomics education and the use of peripheral notebook accessories on the musculoskeletal complaints of teenagers who use a notebook computer on a daily basis.
The longitudinal study began in 2009 with 34 seventh-grade students who consented to participation for six years, through the 12th grade. Students received education about ergonomics, along with web-based ergonomics resources. They were also provided with an external keyboard and mouse and a notebook riser to assist them in properly positioned usage of the notebook.
Over the first three years of the study, students who used an external keyboard experienced a reduction in shoulder and neck pain. An external mouse was associated with fewer self-reported headaches. Using no external accessories was associated with an increase in back pain.
The researchers concluded that ergonomics training could have significant health benefits for children and teens who are exposed to technology on a daily basis.
Earlier research has also shown that posture education can prevent back pain in children.