Laptops and ergonomics

These days, virtually everyone seems to be using laptops and tablets. Individuals often rely on the items for both work and for leisure. Luckily, it is now simple for consumers to take advantage of laptop trade in services, meaning they can swap their old devices for cash. Given the rate at which technology changes and new products are released into the market, this is handy. People can use the money they make from the exchange to help fund purchases of new equipment.

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However, it is not only buying the items that consumers need to think about. They must also consider how they use the devices. Given the length of time many individuals spend on their laptops and tablets, it is all too easy for them to develop physical complaints as a result.

Writing about this in the Guardian, Reid Railton pointed out that there are a rising number of cases of repetitive strain injury and repetitive motion injuries, and even reports of “iPad neck”.

He stated: “A lot of effort went into the ergonomics of using desktop PCs and workstations when they came into widespread use in the 1970s and 80s.” However, the same care has not been taken with laptops and tablets.

Mr Railton suggested that from an ergonomic point of view, people should make their laptops work more like desktops, and this may mean “using a riser to lift the screen and plugging in a separate keyboard”.

However, most people do not do this, the writer added. About this, he remarked: “In my observation, most laptop workers use them on flat desks for extended periods – even multi-billionaires do it – and this may well result in neck problems. With hotdesking, work areas are no longer configured correctly, if at all. Outside the office, many people use laptops in extremely bad ways: this includes on tables in trains (usually too high) and on their knees (bad for the neck).”

Mr Railton also drew attention to a recent survey of 1,000 UK adults conducted by Dynamic Markets for Fellowes that found 79 per cent of respondents believed working with mobile devices is making people ill. Meanwhile, around ten per cent said ‘nomadic working’ has created long-term problems.

According to experienced GP and television health broadcaster Dr Sarah Jarvis, it is important for people to treat their tablets like they would a desktop. She commented: “Treat it as a mobile computer. I’ve got a stand for my iPad.” In particular, she advised people to “avoid the ‘vulture posture’, which is particularly bad for your back”.

She went on to note that posture-related ailments are on the rise and it has now reached the point where she frequently asks her patients if they have a new tablet or laptop.

As long as people are careful and make sure they use their tablets and laptops at the right height while taking frequent breaks, they should be able to avoid problems. They could even use the money they make as a result of laptops trade in deals to invest in special stands and extra keyboards.

By Bency George

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