Have you ever heard about the ‘Gameboy back’? It’s the term that was developed after several studies on the positions of children when they are playing with their Gameboys. It turned out that children and youngsters with a keen passion for gaming developed a hunched back. When these kids don’t sit straight while using a mobile device for several hours, the muscles on their backs are underdeveloped because they don’t get the necessary support. Several others researchers have tried to warn the public about the risks of an unhealthy position.
The Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, hospitals and orthopedic institutions have conducted a research on how the use of tablets affects the head and neck postures. By letting people perform several activities in four popular ‘tablet positions’, an infra-red LED marker could register the movements of head and neck. The researchers concluded that positions where low-gaze angles are avoided are the least demanding for your head and neck. This means that putting your tablet on a table instead of your lap is better.
The science of ergonomics studies wants to investigate how a person’s environment can be optimized to minimize physical or mental burdens. Despite the rising popularity of tablets, this domain of study still has its main focus on favorable positions when using a mouse, pc and laptop for a long period of time. With sales of these mobile and light computers skyrocketing the last few years, it is important that we take into account some physical consequences. A few features of tablets make them a kid’s favorite device to kill time with. They are light, portable and ideal for playing games. If we expose our children on a very young age to these tablets without the necessary attention for their positions, we’re setting them up for very severe orthopedic problems such as arthritis. This illness is very common among people in the age group of 50-60 years old.
What to do?
We are not trying to advocate a ban on tablets. These new devices gave mobility and user convenience a new dimension and are incorporated in many people’s private and professional lives. What we do want to do is raising awareness on how the purchase of tablets and its case can influence your health and that of your children. Be aware of your position while using these devices and make sure you’re not setting your body up for long-term health problems. As for children using these devices a few hours a day; make sure they get enough physical exercise. Playing outside and having a hobby that demands some kind of physical effort is important to let your children’s muscles fully develop. When they use a Gameboy or tablet, make sure that they are seated in decent chairs with back support and that their back is straight. No parent wants a hunched back for their kids, especially when they probably will have to spend another 30 to 40 years behind a computer.