My Osteopath Hates my Computer

Photo by Bengrey

Is it me or could every other image of kids using an iPad be used for a PSA on bad posture?  Kindergartners hunched over screens on their lap, necks hyper-flexed, totally absorbed in that position for long periods of time…  Actually, it doesn’t matter how old the ‘kid’ is, I rarely see anyone modeling ergonomic ideals while using tech.

A quick Google search with ‘iPad’ ‘kids’ ‘posture’ did not return as many alarming hits as I had expected. One newspaper article referring to a Chiropractic Association of Australia study warned that kids as young as 3 were developing poor posture due to use of electronic devices. “We understand we are not going to stop kids from using these devices, it’s something that has become ingrained in our society.But we would encourage children to get out and get active and not just sit hunched over those devices for extended periods.”

My daughter is 6 and I remember noticing her posture when she started using my iPhone to play games. She could sit on the sofa forever hurling birds at pigs.  I couldn’t blame her for getting a bit obsessed with Mom’s new gadget (I was too) but I kept trying to prop up her arms up on cushions hoping this would bring the screen up to an acceptable eye level. Eventually I gave up and just started breaking up her ‘screen time’ by setting time limits and telling her she had to go do some other type of play.

Is this going to be a problem at schools where the iPad becomes a regular tool in the classroom? Actually, I don’t think so. Our periods and activity times are pretty short – especially at the lower grades. I might be wrong, but I don’t think they will have too much continuous screen time.  (At home is another matter all together.) However, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t encourage good posture, provide ergonomic iPad holders, and model it ourselves. No one will be surprised to hear that we’re guilty of the old caveman hunch, and if you’re a bit computer addicted like me, you probably hold this bad posture for longer periods of time. Every time I visit my osteopath he bemoans my ‘computer use injuries’. He did give me some great stretches to do, but I should really follow my own advice and break up my screen time and move around.

What are you doing to avoid strains? Below is a great little iPad inspired animation that might give you a few ideas. Strangely enough, it doesn’t address iPads even though it seems to be played from a tablet.

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3 comments for “My Osteopath Hates my Computer

  1. Avatar of Rachel Gabbert
    January 3, 2012 at 12:50 am

    As I was reading your entry, guess who was draped over the couch reading it on her iPad? It’s interesting how tech has some latent affects that we don’t really consider. Thought provoking!

  2. January 17, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Great title and interesting post to consider. I used the same video to model to my students one day I referred to as “good posture Friday”. As our school considers the iPad program for one of it’s classes, the concern was the posture position of a device flat on the table. In your post I learned that iPad makes ergonomic iPad holders. That would be a must purchase if we do adopt.

    The company my school works for has a automated timer installed in all the managers’ computers that puts the computer in sleep mode for 15 minutes every so often to require users to step away for a break, stretch or water break. Perhaps 5 minute yoga-like stretch breaks could be a required app for our youthful tech users at school.

    As much as possible, I think it’s equally important to balance the techy time with outside/nature based activities for students. They must stay connected to nature in order to continue to be concerned for protecting the environment. In a recent article by Outside Magazine, visionary marine biologist Wallace Nicols researches how getting in touch with nature makes people happy:
    link to outsideonline.com

    With handhelds it’s now easier than ever to take the class outside to sit under a nice shady tree!

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