Health & SafetyAs technology becomes a bigger part of children's lives, so does the need to pay attention to the health issues of using computers. Children need to be taught simple safety principles from the time they begin using computers. Don't overlook the obvious when children use computers:
For children as well as adults, bad posture can cause sore wrists, eye fatigue, headaches, neck strain and even back pain. Since kids may be using computers both at home and at school, there is the potential for problems to develop over time.
To prevent eye problems avoid flickering lights or glare on the screen, and look away from the monitor frequently. (This is true for video games also.) Get up and walk around (moving around rests both the eyes and the body), focus on a distant object, remember not to stare at the screen, and blink often.
adjustable furniture that fits the child. If you can't find sturdy,
adjustable furniture, have furniture available that fits the different
sizes of the children using it.
Viewing Distance:The monitor should be at least 2 to 2 1/2 feet from the child's eyes. To encourage children to maintain the proper distance make the screen easy to see and read at that distance. A larger size font or print on the computer screen, such as 14 or 16, may be helpful. The print can also be adjusted for boldness, color, and line spacing to make it easy to read.
The top of the monitor should be at forehead height so that the child looks slightly down. The child should not have to lean back or forward to see the work on the screen.
Time at Computer: Children should not be encouraged to spend lots of sedentary time at a computer. They should be encouraged to use their physical energy. Little kids wiggleso let them wiggle, stand up, sit on their knees, or change positions while working at the computer. If they continue to move around during their computer time, they will be healthier and have fewer injuries.
Seat Height and Posture: The child should sit high enough so that his or her arms bend at 90º angles when typing or using the mouse. If the height of the chair is not adjustable, use cushions, foam rubber, or even a phone book on the seat to raise the child up high enough. If the child wants to stand or sit in a more comfortable position, that is all rightsitting up straight may not be the most comfortable posture for the human body. The correct posture for working at a computer is one that provides comfort and circulation to the back, arms, legs, and neck.
Footrest: If the child sits in a chair and his or her feet do not touch the floor, use a footstool or footrest to prevent feet from dangling and cutting off the circulation in the legs. Use cushions, phone books, or boxes if a footrest is not available.
Mouse, Touch Pads
and Rollerballs: Most computer mice are built to fit adult hands,
not child-sized hands. Try to find a mouse that fits small hands,
and place it within easy reach of the child.
Keyboards: Child-sized or notebook keyboards are best for young children because the keys are small and close together. The keys should need only light pressure so that keyboarding does not tire their hands and so that children don't pick up the bad habit of pounding keys to get them to work.
Internet Safety ConcernsAt this age children's time spent at the computer will be relatively brief. Place computers in open, accessible areas and monitor children's use of the computer. Any use of the Internet should be under adult guidance.
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