As kids spend more and more time using technology, it is essential to make sure that they adopt healthy computing habits early on to avoid cumulative damage on their eyes, ears, muscles, joints and overall wellbeing.
Healthy Computing Tips
- Use an ergonomically correct computer setup - There are plenty of studies out there about how to set up your computer to minimize strain on your muscles, eyes, etc. Make sure that your kids' computer setup is optimized for their age/size.
- Choose a desktop as the family computer instead of a laptop - Laptops and netbooks may seem appealing, but they generally don't provide an ergonomic environment, especially for kids who may be too small to comfortably adjust the angle of the monitor. In addition, portable machines lend themselves to curling up on the couch or lying in bed, neither of which is ergonomically sound over long periods of time. If you have to use a laptop, try to find an ergonomic "home base" for it where kids can play and do their homework. Better yet, add on some kid-sized peripherals (see below).
- Choose kid-sized peripherals - Small kids have small hands and short arms. Using adult-sized mice and keyboards are challenging for them both in terms of size and in fine motor skills. Choosing a child friendly keyboard and mouse will make it easier for them to learn to use the computer as well as create a healthier computing environment.
- Take frequent breaks - You've probably heard this before, but you want to encourage your kids to take frequent breaks. Set a kitchen timer, user your operating system parental controls, or find another way to remind them to stop, stretch, and do a different activity for a few minutes. This is important to reduce muscle strain, but also wear on the eyes.
- Limit time in front of the computer - Taking breaks is great, but it's even more important for kids and teens to engage in other activities, especially those that get the body moving. Not only can it help avoid unhealthy weight gain, but the additional oxygen to the brain can give them a boost for when they do return to the computer.