Wired For Pain

A parent's biggest worry used to be what their children were doing on the computer. Now, an even bigger worry may be how they're doing it.

"My neck starts to get sore, and my back can ache, and my eyes sting a little bit," says student Ariel Gold.

The newest computer casualties, reports CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan, are the young, tech savvy kids who are beginning to complain just like adults.

"Sometimes my wrists hurt," says Ryan Ferguson. “Usually, just my back starts to hurt," adds Donny Hakim. "My neck starts to hurt and my eyes kinda go blurry after a while," says Veronica Schott.

From homework assignments to e-mailing friends, some 30 million elementary school kids are using computers these days. And the aches and pains they’re complaining of usually are the result of poor body position.

Keyboard Exercises
The jury is still out on whether specific exercises really help, but here are some that are widely recommended:

Squeezea foam resistance ball 15-20 times, rest, then repeat.

Make a fist and rotate your hand in one direction 15 times, then repeat going the other direction; repeat, this time with fingers extended.

Make a fist, extend your fingers as far apart as possible, hold for 10 seconds, relax; repeat five to ten times.

Click here for more tips.

Karen Jacobs is an occupational therapist and professor at Boston University. This week, she released the results of a five-year ergonomic study, showing kids need not only better workstations, they need better computer habits.

More than half the sixth graders she surveyed reported pain – 35 percent in their necks, and 20 percent in their backs along with aches in their shoulders, wrists, and elbows.

Absent any ergonomic guidelines for kids, Jacobs says, those numbers will continue to grow. "It's not going away and if we don't do something, the potential for it to be an epidemic, I think, is there," she says.

There aren't enough studies to know for sure exactly what the long term impact of poor computer habits is on kids, but most health experts agree on one thing. If there are painful side effects as early as elementary school, it's likely to only get worse by the time they get to college.

Dr. David Diamond has seen computer-reated injuries in students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, jump 20 percent a year.

"Habits that they learn in grammar school and high school will carry forward into college, good and bad,” he says.

Which leaves one more consideration for modern day parents - While computers are undoubtedly healthy for the mind, they may not always be healthy for the body -- young or old.

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