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Kids At Their Computers

Kids use computers every day at school and at home, but studies show they need to use the same good habits in front of the computer as adults. In addition, many parents don't realize they must adjust computer work stations to fit kids.

Joining CBS This Morning with tips on how to make the home work station more kid-friendly is Robin Raskin, editor-in-chief of Family PC magazine.

Kids love computers and they are becoming part of the daily routine at home and school. However, physical problems in adults, thought to be caused by hours at the computer - eye strain, carpal tunnel and back problems - can also affect children. To make matters worse, computer work stations are set up for adult-size bodies.

A Cornell University study on computer work stations and kids found a "striking" misfit between children and the equipment they used. The study involved third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. Inappropriate chairs, work tables and computer height can cause craned necks, hunched shoulders and flexed wrists. Parents, however, can help minimize these problems.

Good Posture
Bad Posture

Raskin underscores the importance of good posture when using the computer and offers some tips:

Basic Tips:

  • Make sure kids take frequent breaks from the computer.
  • Desks must be stable.
  • Cords and wires must be out of the way to prevent tripping.
  • Teach your child the proper way to sit at the computer.
  • Backs should be against the back of the chair and feet should be on the floor.
  • The room should be properly ventilated with good lighting.

Head: The Monitor

  • Ideally, the monitor should tilt to avoid glare. If the monitor doesn't tilt, a screen glare protector should be purchased.
  • New flat screen monitors are very good for the eyes.
  • The child's head should be aligned with the top of the computer screen.
  • The screen should be 27" from the child's face.

Arms: The Keyboard
  • Adult-sized keyboards are too big for kids, but most families aren't going to invest in a kid-size keyboard. For kids, an adult keyboard should be positioned so the letter "b" is centered with the midline of the body. Using the sides of the keyboard as a guide isn't a good idea. The hands will be angled because letter keys are to the left of the midline.
  • Arms should be at a 90-degree angle to the body.
  • Wrists should be stright, not bent. If they rest on the desk, placing too much pressure on them should be avoided.
  • Mouse - Most are too large for kids. Those designed with kids in mind haven't done very well in the marketplace.

Back: The Chair and Footstool
  • An adjustable chair is best.
  • Feet should be flat on the floor. A footstool should be used if necessary. This removes back strain and helps circulation.
  • A booster chair can give very small children the proper height at the table.

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