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In my clinic we are becoming concerned at the increasing number of nine to 17-year-olds presenting with upper back and neck pain.

One obvious cause is the extended periods of time children are spending on laptops, along with electronic gaming devices, in a poor postural position.

Research from Curtin University demonstrates that an increase in computing time statistically results in an increase in neck pain.

Problems are compounded by a reduction in physical activity.

Laptops are designed to be used for short periods and spinal issues arise when used for long periods.

If your kids are using laptop computers at home, get them to follow these industry-accepted tips:

1. Sit at a desk with a good office chair, not on a lounge or on a bed.

2. Use a wireless keyboard and mouse.

3. Keep elbows at 90 degrees and mouse close rather than reaching for it.

4. Position the laptop on a stand or similar so the top of the screen is at eye level and directly in front.

5. Take breaks at least every hour. Get up and move around.

6. Feet should be supported on the ground or a footstool.

7. Use document holders.

8. Teach children to report pain or discomfort. If it persists, see a physiotherapist.

9. Exercise regularly to counteract the effects of computing and electronic device use. Walking, swimming and stretching are all beneficial.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure.

The West Australian

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