Research Suggests Mid-Level Computer Screen Displays Can Minimize Musculoskeletal Strain in Schoolchildren

Mar 06, 2008

A new study by human factors researchers in Australia suggests that students’ posture is affected by the height at which they view classroom learning materials. The researchers cited computer screen displays positioned at mid-level as causing less musculoskeletal strain than high- and book-level displays. Their findings were published in the February 2008 issue of Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

The rapid increase in computer use by children over the past few years, say the authors, "has outpaced the development of knowledge about the ramifications for the health of children." For example, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that in 2006, 80% of children aged 5 to 14 years used a computer at home.

Children are physically and behaviorally different from adults; for example, children’s heads are proportionately larger than those of adults. This makes research conducted on adults inadequate to address computer-related discomfort in children.

Because research on what constitutes the optimal display height for children is limited, Leon Straker and colleagues conducted a study in which they presented an interactive task to 24 children of normal height age 10–12. The children's movements were recorded with an optical capture system while they read from a book and wrote on paper or read from a computer display and used a mouse and keyboard to enter data. The researchers measured 3-D posture and muscle activity in the neck and upper limb for the high-, mid-, and book-level displays. The authors state that the study is unique in that it captures 3-D posture and muscle activity under conditions that are commonly observed in schools.

The high display resulted in mainly upward bending of the upper neck. As the visual target was lowered, head and neck downward bending increased. The mid-level display was found to promote a more upright and symmetrical posture and lower average muscle activity than either the high- or the book-level position. Of the three positions, the low (book-level) display was found to cause the most strain on muscles and joints.

Straker and colleagues note, "The data collected in this study provide the first detailed description of 3-D head, neck, and arm posture and the associated muscle activity of children reading and entering data with computers and reading and writing with paper." Despite some limitations of their study, they believe the findings can aid in the development of guidelines for computer use by children.

Source: National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia

Explore further: Christmas a risky time for vulnerable according to indigenous expert

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

In Curiosity Hacked, children learn to make, not buy

19 hours ago

With her right hand, my 8-year-old daughter, Kalian, presses the red-hot soldering iron against the circuit board. With her left hand, she guides a thin, tin wire until it's pressing against both the circuit board and the ...

Gift Guide: Small, smart stocking techie stuffers

Dec 11, 2014

If you were naughty this year, you might end up with something big and boring, like a vacuum cleaner. If you were good, you might ask for one of these little high-tech gems instead.

Feds say Web privacy firm deceived consumers (Update)

Nov 17, 2014

Federal regulators said a respected Internet privacy company gave its seal of approval to commercial websites and mobile apps but failed to check whether they were indeed meeting standards for safeguarding customers' data.

Japan's smartphone 'zombies' wreak havoc on the streets

Nov 12, 2014

When the lights change at the Shibuya crossing in Japan's capital, one of the world's busiest pedestrian thoroughfares, hundreds of people with their eyes glued to smartphones pick their way over the road.

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.