By Wendy Van Wyk – Biokineticist & Ergonomic Assessor
Remote learning can be a pain for kids in more ways than one. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many students remain in a distance learning arrangement or a hybrid model with at least some schooling taking place from home. An ergonomically correct remote learning setup is important because it can help prevent long-term problems with their posture and help avoid discomfort.
To help parents ensure their children have the proper setup – and that their growing bodies don’t suffer unintended consequences of an at-home workstation, Ergonomicsdirect is offering their services to assist with workstation assessments and discounted ergonomic products.
If kids are sitting in a hunched-over posture, with their feet off the ground, staring at their screens without breaks, they can get neck strain, back strain, and eye strain. Poor attention or participation, becoming easily distracted, headaches or body aches are also potential side effects.
Here’s how you can help your child stay safe – ensure that they have a correct ergonomic workstation setup:
- Ensure that they sit in a chair with back support at the dining table or a desk instead of on the couch, in bed, or on the floor which promotes poor posture.
- Children and adults alike should maintain a neutral posture while sitting at a computer, with the spine not twisted or bent, the lower back supported and the neck straight.
- Place the computer or tablet on a table in front of your child, instead of letting them hold the screen in their lap. The top of the screen should be at eye level.
- Forearms and thighs should be roughly parallel to the floor, and feet should be flat and supported, not dangling.
- Arms should rest comfortably at the sides, with wrists straight and relaxed. The work area should be well-lit with the monitor positioned at approximately arm’s length and the top part of the screen comfortably at eye level.
Children working on laptops need to raise it up to a comfortable level. Another option for achieving a neutral posture is to get a laptop stand, and an external keyboard and mouse so they can keep their wrists straight.
An adjustable ergonomic chair can help a child achieve proper positioning at a desk or table, or an alternative is to equip a regular chair to make it more comfortable for kids by using pillows to raise up the child or rolling up towels for lower-back support. Kids may also need to put their feet on a box or footrest.
Breaks are built into the normal school day as students do things like play at break time, switch classes and walk to lunch. But remote learning can be one long sedentary grind with eyes glued to the screen unless you actively plan to break up the day. Try to make sure that your kids stand up, and move around at least every 30 minutes.