Monday, May 11, 2009
If you love your child, don't give him or her (or yourself) a laptop computer. This a pretty provocative way to start out an article. But I am serious about it. I am not talking about electromagnetic radiation or anything like that. I am talking about posture. Sitting on your bed with a laptop on your lap is about the worst thing you can for your posture. Even using laptop on a desk or table can be bad for your posture.
Your head weighs about as much as bowling ball. It is supposed to sit squarely on your shoulders. In normal sitting posture, your ears, shoulders and hips should line up in a vertical line. It is very hard to spend much time on a laptop computer and maintain normal posture. Using a laptop computer causes most people to crane their necks forward more than desktops. Some people also bend their upper back forward. This is a recipe for disaster. When you hold your body in normal posture, the muscles in your neck and back don't have to work very much. They only contract occasionally. When your head posture is forward of your shoulder, the muscles in the neck and back have to contract full time. The muscles in your spine aren't supposed to contract full time. And when they do, you muscle spasms. This abnormal posture also causes the the curve in your neck to straighten out. The curve in your neck is designed to to support the weight of your head. If the normal 30 degree radius curve is straightened then this can lead to early breakdown and degeneration of the vertebral discs and other joints in the neck. A research study was done many years ago looking at the x-rays of 3000 people. And in almost every person with a straightened or abnormal curve degeneration was found. Also the keyboards on laptops are not usually ergonomically designed. So over many years the wear and tear will accumulate and potentially lead to hand problems.
All this is important to everyone- young and old alike. However, in children their bones are still growing and developing.. And while the bones are still growing they can developed in a good way or a bad way. This means that the shape of bone and the architecture of the joints can be changed away from normal and lead to permanent abnormal posture.
Now, don't worry you don't have throw away that brand new laptop. There is a solution. I recommend that you buy a lap top stand, keyboard and mouse for your laptop. They sell them at every office supply and computer store. With the stand you can adjust the screen to any height you wish. For a good keyboarder the center of the screen should be even with your eyes. If you aren't so good at keyboarding, then the top of the screen should line up with eyes. I did this with both of my kids and they are very happy with the set up. If you are suffering from neck pain, back pain or headaches and are still using a laptop, no amount of adjustments will solve your problems. Laptops are great for traveling and for short periods of time. They are not good daily long terms use.