When we hear the term ergonomics we tend to think of the office or the workplace. However, Ergonomics is important to all humans, especially kids and teens. They are in their formative years and what they put into practice now can have long-term effects on their future well-being.
Teaching children and schools to practice ergonomic strategies is really important in an age where technology, computing, and gadgets have become a part of our daily existence. This is the formal definition of ergonomics according to the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ergonomics is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population.
How does that definition relate to kids and teens? They sit at desks and computer stations at school and home just like you do at work. If their bodies aren't properly aligned for repetitive activities like typing, and texting, those activities can lead to injuries.
Did you know that up to 58% of middle school-aged children have pain associated with computer use? (source) That could lead to injuries prior to entering the workforce. That's a bit scary considering the ergonomic injuries that plague much of today's workforce.
The three main problem areas parents and schools must look out for are:
Sitting at the Computer-improper alignment affects the back, legs, joints, wrists, neck and shoulders; educating kids and teens about the appropriate posture and risks will help them to prevent injuries. This is something that can be done at school and home. The Puget Sound Chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society has an informative PDF on proper alignment here.
Backpacks-most kids and teens carry backpacks to school which is fine until they are loaded down with contents or select ones that do not fit properly. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics children should not carry more than 15%-20% of their weight. Backpacks should not be larger than a child's frame and should have adjustable padded straps. They should not sag off their back and the contents should be evenly distributed.
Texting- much like typing constant texting if not done properly can have an effect on your wrists but more importantly your thumbs. The Puget Sound Chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society has an informative PDF on proper texting. They share how 51% of our hand's functionality comes from our thumb and how texting has created a repetitive stress injury called "BlackBerry thumb". Share this information with your teens so they can prevent future injuries.
Have you notice your kids or teens complaining about back, neck, or shoulder problems?
Do your kids know the importance of good posture while doing tasks or activities?