Could the use of a laptop cause postural problems?

Sunday, April 5th, 2009 | Computer Usage, laptops | 2 Comments

While the combination of working in an awkward position and excessive use of a laptop may cause back, neck and leg problems, it is unlikely that moderate and sensible use of a laptop will cause postural problems for a teacher.

How much time will you spend working on your laptop?  This may vary, but it seldom would be more than an hour or so at a time. Teachers can therefore be called occasional users rather than full-time users.  Much of what has been said about postural problems caused by laptop use pertains to full-time users.

You don’t have to purchase fancy equipment to make your laptop ergonomically acceptable.  A good posture can be achieved simply by finding the ideal body position.

Play around with the following suggestions until you find a comfortable working position.

Move the laptop close enough to you so that you do not have to bend your head forward to see what is on the screen.

Angle the screen to the most comfortable position.

Select a chair and table that are comfortable for you to work on.  Putting the laptop on your lap is not the most comfortable position and putting it next to you on the bed is not recommended.

If you have to work on your lap at times, support your feet with a footstool so that your knees are not lower than your hips.

The most important advice is to take a break regularly – get up and stretch.  This has the added advantage of reducing eye strain.

You will know that you are maintaining a good posture while using your laptop when you are able to work on it without hunching, craning your neck or stretching your arms more than necessary.  You will also know that you are not maintaining a good posture if your body talks to you through aches and pains after a session with your laptop.

A lot has been written about laptop ergonomics.  While a good posture is important, the matter is often over-stated.  Let your mind and your body guide you.

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Can a laptop’s screen damage my eyes?

Saturday, March 21st, 2009 | Computer Usage, laptops | 3 Comments

If you look at anything continuously for a long time, such as reading a book or watching TV, you may experience eye strain.  The same could happen if you look at a laptop’s screen for a long time.

Just looking at the screen is not harmful to your eyes.  Eye strain is caused by looking at the screen without a rest for long periods of time.  The good news is that the LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screen of a laptop is easier on the eyes than the CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) screens of older desktop computers.

Teachers would not customarily look at a laptop screen for many hours on end and it is therefore unlikely that they would develop eye strain.  If your eyes are more sensitive than that of the average person, you may have to take precautions to protect them.  In some severe cases special spectacles could be prescribed by your optician.

Consider a few common sense measures that could alleviate the little bit of eye strain that you may have to endure.

Since eye strain is caused by long, uninterrupted periods of staring at the screen, take frequent breaks.  Get up and walk around – not only will it rest your eyes, but it will also be good for the rest of your body.

Blink more frequently – it rewets the eyes and prevents dryness and irritation.  If blinking is not sufficient, try eye drops to relieve itchy or scratchy eyes.

Adjust the lighting in the room until you feel comfortable.  This may require that you draw the curtains if there is a glare, or install an additional light if the environment is too dark.  Experiment with different light sources and settings until you are satisfied.

The brightness and contrast of your computer screen can be adjusted and it is suggested that you play around with these settings until you find a combination that is just right for you.

Change the position of the laptop so that the screen is a comfortable distance from your eyes.  You will be surprised at the difference that it could make if you move the laptop a few centimetres further or closer to you.

Anti-glare screen filters are useful when you have to work in an area where you can not change the environment.

These suggestions are easy to follow and do not cost you anything. 

Look after your eyes – you and your laptop will need them for many years.

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