Issues about home computer workstations and primary school children in Hong Kong: a pilot study.Work. 2014; 48(4):485-93.WORK
All around the world, there is a rising trend of computer use among young children especially at home; yet the computer furniture is usually not designed specifically for children's use. In Hong Kong, this creates an even greater problem as most people live in very small apartments in high-rise buildings. Most of the past research literature is focused on computer use in children in the school environment and not about the home setting.
The present pilot study aimed to examine ergonomic issues in children's use of computers at home in Hong Kong, which has some unique home environmental issues.
Fifteen children (six male, nine female) aged 8-11 years and their parents were recruited by convenience sampling.
Participants were asked to provide information on their computer use habits and related musculoskeletal symptoms. Participants were photographed when sitting at the computer workstation in their usual postures and joint angles were measured.
The participants used computers frequently for less than two hours daily and the majority shared their workstations with other family members. Computer furniture was designed more for adult use and a mismatch of furniture and body size was found. Ergonomic issues included inappropriate positioning of the display screen, keyboard, and mouse, as well as lack of forearm support and suitable backrest. These led to awkward or constrained postures while some postural problems may be habitual. Three participants reported neck and shoulder discomfort in the past 12 months and 4 reported computer-related discomfort.
Inappropriate computer workstation settings may have adverse effects on children's postures. More research on workstation setup at home, where children may use their computers the most, is needed.