Computers and your health
computers. Internet. safety; posture; activity; research; computer games;
Nowadays there are computers in every school and nearly every home.
- We can find things out quickly using search engines.
- We can use them to write, create, keep pictures, scan documents or photos, store our work or memories in files, and play games.
- We can join other people online to chat or play games.
- We can read the news or watch things happening around the world as it happens.
- We can download music, films, video clips and watch TV programs 'on demand'.
It seems that the list of things we can do on a computer, tablet, or mobile phone grows longer every day.
How did people ever manage before computers?
Not so great things
There is a lot of research happening around the world, particularly about kids and the amount of time they spend on computers and playing computer games.
Researchers are concerned that long lengths of time on computers may lead to:
- bad posture which can lead to problems with the spine, poor circulation of the blood, and pain in muscles and joints
- hand injuries, from pressing buttons on a computer or games controller
- obesity, caused by sitting around for a long time, snacking while using the computer or games and not having enough physical exercise
- muscle and joint problems, leading to headaches, neck or back pain from sitting too long
- eyestrain, when eyes get tired of staring at a screen leading to blurry vision, sore eyes and headache.
- losing some of your ability to be creative
- finding it harder to talk, play and join in with other kids.
Keeping safe on the Internet is also of great concern. Check out our topic on The Internet for more info on this.
- Set up your computer so that you can see the screen without tilting your head up or down.
- Have the keyboard at the same level as your elbows.
- Have your feet flat on the floor or a footrest.
- Use your arm not just your wrist when you move the mouse.
- Drop your hands to your lap when you are not typing to give your arms a rest.
- Look away from the screen to focus on something further away to give your eyes a rest.
- Limit your time on the computer by having 'walk around' breaks.
- Get out and be active.
- If you use a laptop make sure you carry it in a backpack or wheel around bag to protect yourself from back injury.
- Don't play games before bedtime as you may have trouble getting a good sleep. Check out our topic on Sleep - are you getting enough? for more info on this.
Game playing is great fun (but hard work at times!)
- You may be trying to improve your score or move to the next level of your game.
- You may be playing against another person at home.
- You may be playing against others on the internet.
There is a lot of research going on around the world about the effects of game playing on kids.
Some researchers believe that game playing is bad for kids and can lead to them becoming aggressive - like the games they play.
Some researchers worry that kids who spend too much time alone playing games may have problems getting along with other people in their daily lives.
Some researchers believe that some games can improve a kid's thinking and decision making skills.
I guess it depends on the kinds of games you play.
Some games, like the Wii sports games, are very active so you can get exercise at the same time.
Some games are so exciting that your heart rate goes up even though your body is not exercising hard.
Some researchers believe that exciting games make kids feel hungry, but if they haven't actually been exercising their bodies then they don't need that food really and it sits around to become fat!
Things to remember
- Set yourself and your computer so that you have the most comfortable position for your whole body.
- Have breaks from the computer and move your body around.
- Have time limits for the computer so that you talk and play with others.
- Stay away from unsafe sites.
- Everything that you post on some sites will be there forever, so don't embarrass yourself or others.
- Eat 'proper meals' at mealtimes, rather than snacking at the computer. Anyway having a family meal together gives you the chance to talk about what you have been doing and listen to family news. (An important part of being a family.)
"I think computers are good because:
- it's quicker than writing
- it's neater
- you can add things in
- you can research lots of things
- you can check your spelling and grammar
- you can download pictures and diagrams to add to your work."
- "You can present your work in different ways to make it more interesting. You can play games."
- "You can share family events with people in your family who are far away."
- "You can download music, e-books and movies - if mum lets you."
- "In my house we have a system for using the computer. Mum has her own, and the rest of us share after school. We get 45mins each and that's enough time to do stuff for school."
- "Only add family and friends you know to your friend list. "
- Georgia says, "Many children use the computer too much. Get out and get active!"
- Maria says, "Computers are a great 21st century learning tool but you need to choose sites carefully or you could get false information."
- Isabelle says, "Don't eat junk-food/snacks in front of a computer screen."
- Kirah says, "If I am on a computer too long my back starts to hurt because I am leaning forward and my back is in an awkward position. From now on I am going to try to keep my back straight and make the computer level with my eyes."
- Nick says...
- "Good things about using computers:
- faster than hand writing
- not difficult to use
- much neater
- can make presentation look a lot nicer
- can print images
- easy to correct mistakes
- can be used for research
- Bad things about using computers:
- gives you 'square' eyes
- makes you and your body inactive due to the lack of movement
- no social connections is you are not permitted to talk to people."
- Janelle says, "It is good to use computers to do your homework but it can be bad because you may not be socialising face to face as much as you did before."
Dr Kim says
Computers are great but the human body is not designed to sit down all day so get out and get active!
Many kids play online games. Make sure that you never give out information online which can let someone know your name, address or anything else about you and your life.
Look at this site to learn more about keeping yourself safe online.
We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.