From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Keyboarding and Kids: MSNBC Series Installment

In August, MSNBC began a five part series titled “Working Wounded”. The series has examined how computers have affected injury rates in recent years. The fifth and final installment of the series “Keyboarding kids: generation at risk” was featured on December 5th.

Many articles have dealt with the issues of children using adult sized desks and computer workstations, but this piece differs as it examines varying opinions on whether the supple and still growing musculoskeletal systems of young children make them more or less susceptible to the musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) found in adults.

And while it is up to parents and teachers to provide children with appropriate equipment, training, and monitoring, some experts suggest that adults can learn from ‘fidgiting’ children. Children aren’t stuck to their chair, they make small changes in posture, often, and this might benefit adults too.

According to the MSNBC article, some surveys indicate that fourth-graders spend 9 percent of their time on computers; by 12th grade, that proportion jumps to 19 percent. The University of Rochester, found similar evidence when they asked sixth- through eighth-graders whether they experienced computer-related aches or pains at home or school. A total of 47 percent experienced discomfort with wrists; 44 percent with neck; 43 percent with eyes and 41 percent with hands.

Is anything being done to address kids’ workstations? Yes! In September Ergoweb reported on a new technical committee, Ergonomics for Children and Educational Environments, established by The International Ergonomics Association (IEA). Objectives of the committee include:

  • Defining strategies to inexpensively retrofit or redesign existing furniture used in computer environments at home, and in schools, libraries, children’s museums and other educational environments;
  • Promoting the development of ergonomic design guidelines (or codes of practice) for software, hardware, furniture, classrooms, computer rooms, school libraries and other educational environments.

View MSNBC’s “Working Wounded” at