Health Guide to Typing on Your Home PC or Mobile Device
In today's world, we spend a huge amount of time typing, whether on our computers at home and at work or on our mobile devices. With the ever-evolving technology of smartphones and the increasing portability of computers it is possible to type and correspond almost anywhere. With this increase in time spent typing, it is important to pay attention to proper ergonomics, posture, and health concerning typing on computers as well as mobile devices.
Why Ergonomics are Important to Your Health
Ergonomics are important for many reasons. It is a word that is used often, but it basically just means the study and practice of how people physically work best. Ergonomics can include everything from the height of your chair and desk to the keyboard you use and the hardness of the floor in your work area. This type of knowledge as well as the adjustments that are made to support the body are important because your muscles and bones are impacted heavily by physical stress. Since we now spend so much time typing, it is important that we avoid any added stress to our bodies so that injuries do not occur.
- Oregon OSHA: The advantages of ergonomics
- US Department of Labor: Ergonomics: the study of work
- American Industrial Hygiene Association: An ergonomics approach to avoiding office workplace injuries and illness
Health Impact of Improper Techniques
Although most people are not injured immediately by poor typing posture or positioning, long-term use of improper techniques and unhealthy ergonomic conditions can, over time, cause serious health issues. Although some bodily stress while doing any motion is unavoidable, proper ergonomic posture can help you avoid serious injury. Some potential health impacts of poor ergonomics while typing can include body, hand, and neck pain, headaches, eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more.
- University of New Hampshire: Ergonomics
- University of California, Riverside: What is an ergonomic injury?
Learning Proper Typing Techniques
There are several ways to type and avoid injury. When typing at a computer while seated at a desk, the best position to use is with hands slightly below the elbows, without having to stretch forward more than a comfortable amount. This reduces stress on the elbows and wrists. You should also sit an arm's length away from the monitor to avoid eye strain. This applies to both computers and mobile devices, which can also cause eye strain if held too close. Typing this way puts less strain on the body than other positions, but frequent breaks should still be taken.
- Cornell University Ergonomics Web: Ideal typing posture
- Mayo Clinic: Office ergonomics: your how-to guide
Maintaining a Healthy Posture
It is important to maintain a healthy posture no matter what activity you are participating in, but as typing can be repetitive and time-consuming, it is especially important to pay attention to health posture when working in front of a computer or using a mobile device. While typing, you should keep your fingers, arms, and shoulders relaxed in order to reduce stress on your back as much as possible. This will also help you sit up straight with little stress on your spine and muscles. When typing on a mobile device, posture is also important, and you should keep your head up and back straight.
- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: How to sit at a computer
- Cleveland Clinic: Back health & posture
- The Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York: Posture and work station tips
Mobile Device Ergonomics
Mobile devices have similar rules to computers. Keep your device in a neutral position, not too close to your face, and take frequent breaks. In addition, mobile device users should try to avoid using only their thumbs to type, as it increases stress on the arms, and should use talk to text or short keys as often as possible. Also, mobile devices should be put down frequently, and activities should be varied to avoid strain. Phone brightness should also be set to auto adjust, as screens that are too bring or too dark can cause eye strain.
- UCLA Health: Ergonomic tips for the use of hand-held devices
- North American Spine Society: 10 tips for a healthy back
- University of California Office of the President Risk Services: Mobile phones and tablet tips
Educational Resources and Games for Kids
Kids should start learning about proper typing techniques and posture as soon as they begin using keyboards or mobile devices. Children should not type or use a mobile device for long periods of time without breaks, and they should vary their keyboard and mobile device activities. For example, they should use keyboard shortcuts and change activities every so often. They should also be taught to take breaks for physical activity.
- WatchKnowLearn: Keyboarding
- The Inventors: Lillian Gilbreth and Frank Gilbreth, the birth of ergonomics
- Typing Club: Learn touch typing
Educational Resources for Adults
Adults should also learn how to type and hold their devices properly. Many adults today have been working on computers most of their adult lives. They spend huge amounts of time in front of computers and increasing amounts of time in front of their mobile devices. Luckily there is a wealth of information on typing and ergonomics available. Adults should also be conscientious of how much time they spend on the computer and on their phones at home if they sit in front of a computer all day at work.
- Princeton University Health Services: Ergonomics & computer use
- National Posture Institute: Why posture will continue to be relevant in 2017
Educational Resources for Seniors
Seniors should also be aware of ergonomics, as they can be prone to muscle and bone stress. Older adults should, like children and younger adults, avoid repetitive movements and take frequent breaks to avoid strain. They should also be especially aware of avoiding eye strain and making sure to move frequently, and should wear any protective braces needed if typing does become painful. Larger screens and buttons on mobile devices can also help seniors use their devices with ease.
- US National Library of Medicine: Seniors and technology, ergonomic needs and design consideration
- American Chiropractic Association: Back pain facts and statistics