Recommendations for Computer Use
The computer is going to be an important tool in
students' lives. We need to pay attention to how the computer is introduced to
ensure students learn useful strategies on how to set up their workstations
and develop good work habits. Understanding and Implementing Ergonomic
principles is a critical component in this learning process and need to be
incorporated into all aspects of computer use in schools and at home.
The student should be positioned in relation to the keyboard/mouse height.
If the height of the keyboard/mouse can be adjusted:
- Choose a chair position in which the student can sit with his/her feet
fully supported on the floor. The knees should not be higher than the
hip joints as this places increased stress on the back tissues.
- The keyboard/mouse should then be lowered so that when the elbows are
bent to about 90 degrees and the upper arms are relaxed at the sides of the
body, the keys are right under the fingers.
If the keyboard/mouse height is not adjustable:
- A chair needs to be chosen that will place the student at a height such
that when the elbows are bent to 90 degrees and the upper arms are relaxed
at the sides of the body, the keys are right under the fingers. For
most children, this will mean use of a higher chair and their feet will not
- A footrest should then be added to support the feet.
- Alternatively, find a lower surface to put the computer on.
- Chair has been raised as high as possible and then a pillow has been
added to increase sitting height even further so that keyboard is under
fingers when upper arms are relaxed at sides and elbows are bent to
about 90 degrees.
- Wrists are straight
- Upper arms are relaxed at the sides of the body.
- A pillow has been added behind the back to decrease the depth of the
- The feet are fully supported on a footrest
If the keyboard and mouse are too high, the student will have to reach
up for the mouse. This posture places increased stress on the shoulder and
neck tissues and tends to result in a bent wrist.
|The mouse should be
located next to the keyboard so that it is easy to reach.
Most children do not use the number pad on the keyboard, so in the picture
to the left, a platform to sit over the number pad was created by cutting out
a corner of a sturdy shoe box.
|The monitor should be
directly in front of the student so that no neck twisting is required to
view the screen.
The top of the screen should be below eye level.
The student should not have to bend his/her neck
backwards to view the screen. Watch that the chin doesn't poke out
when using the computer. This posture is hard on the neck tissues
and may happen because the monitor is too far away or because the student
is concentrating on whatever he/she is viewing.
frequently (every 15-20 minutes).
The above guidelines are to help set-up your
computer positioning but any position that you stay in for too long will
become uncomfortable for the body. Our muscles and joints were
designed to move to stay healthy so change your position at least every 15
to 20 minutes. Even slouching is OK as long as you don't do it for
too long. Any position that you stay in for a long time is a bad
one! Here are some examples of sitting positions that still maintain
the basic principles...head straight, wrists straight, upper arms relaxed
at the side of the body.
|Get up and move your body every 30 to 60
Every 30 to 60 minutes you should get up and walk or do another activity
that involves moving your body. This helps to increase circulation so
that your muscles and other tissues get the nutrients they need to stay
||During your frequent changes of
position, also take time to look as far away as possible for a few
seconds. This helps your eye muscles relax.
Usually we blink without thinking about it
regularly during the day to keep the eyes moist which helps them function
properly. When doing computer work, people don't blink as frequently
which may result in dry, sore eyes so remember to blink more.
If your eyes feel uncomfortable or sore when working on the computer
have an eye examination to make sure your eyes are healthy. Increase
or decrease the amount of light at your computer station if necessary.
Make sure there is no glare (bright spots of light) on your screen...check
this when the monitor is turned off as it will be easy to see if there is
glare on the black screen.
|Make sure you drink water
regularly over the day to help keep your body healthy.
What about using a laptop computer?
Children and young adults with small hands may find that the smaller laptop
keyboard is easier to use than a regular keyboard. Those with larger
hands may find it uncomfortable. The basics shown for desktop computers above,
also apply to laptop use...
- Keep the upper arms relaxed at the side of the body
- Bend the elbows to about 90 degrees
- Keep the wrists straight
- Change position every 15-20 minutes and take a complete break to get up
and move your body every 30-60 minutes.
If your hands are large and using the laptop keyboard is uncomfortable,
plug in a regular keyboard. You can also plug in a regular mouse.
Some students will find that looking down at the laptop screen is
comfortable while others may find that it bothers their neck. If it
bothers you, when you can, plug in a regular monitor and place it so that the
top of the screen is at or below eye level.
Laptops are great for allowing you to change position...you don't always
have to sit at a desk but keep the basics, above, in mind. Here are just
a couple of examples of ways to sit when using a laptop...