Good Computer Ergonomics – It’s Not Just for Grownups!

There’s been a lot of discussion over the last several years about “digital natives” vs. “digital immigrants.” I just recently came across another great way of describing this from David Truss, “I come from the Batman era, adding items to my utility belt while students today are the Borg from Star Trek, assimilating technology into their lives.”

I spend time volunteering in schools, to give something back AND to observe how the next generation is going to approach and solve problems. Now I get the opportunity to see REAL “digital natives” in action – how differently they view the world, even compared to 5 years ago.

That’s when I realize that much of our educational system is not designed to teach the students of today, and that the needs of today’s students evolve so much faster than in the past.

I applaud educators and administrators for trying to keep up, it’s a huge undertaking.  These kids multi-task – all the time. They really don’t read physical books, they read online.  The good old days of the cool mechanical pencil are long-gone.  And they spend SO much time on computers, from such a young age.  Friends of mine are looking to get their 3 ½ year old daughter her own Mac.  Three and a half?  Wow.

It makes me wonder if parents and instructors are recognizing some of the implications of kids spending so much time on computers from younger and younger ages.  Back problems, neck aches, and eye strain are well known problems with adults who spend a lot of time in front of computers at work and at home, doing repetitive tasks. Why not kids too?

In fact, research conducted by Cornell University found “40% of the elementary school children they studied used computer workstations that put them at postural risk.”

Not only that, they are using these computer stations from such a young age, through important periods of physical growth that could be heavily influenced by physical constraints of extended computer use. It was good to see Dr. Crom’s recent blog entry on ergonomics in computing for children, there is a concern to create awareness and address this problem.  The American Chiropractic Association is also doing its part, publishing tips to reduce injuries related to computer use.

Ergotron wants to learn and be involved in this dialogue. We want to help find ways to help solve this problem of “now” and the future, so this next generation of great problem solvers isn’t slowed down due to physical ailments caused by computer use.