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Ergonomics. 2008 Apr;51(4):540-55. doi: 10.1080/00140130701711000.

A comparison of posture and muscle activity during tablet computer, desktop computer and paper use by young children.

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School of Physiotherapy, Curtin University of Technology, Australia.


Computers are now widely used by children. Tablet computers are becoming widely available and promoted for use by school children. The primary objective of this study was to compare the posture and muscle activity of children using a tablet computer to the posture and muscle activity of children using a desktop computer and paper technology. Eighteen children (mean age 5.6 years) performed a colouring-in task in tablet, desktop and paper conditions. 3-D posture and muscle activity around the neck and shoulder was assessed. Tablet computer use was similar to paper use, with less neutral spinal posture, more elevated scapular posture and greater upper trapezius and cervical erector spinae activity. This was offset by greater variability of posture and muscle activity. Tablet computer use clearly results in different musculoskeletal stresses than desktop computer use. Computer use guidelines need to be appropriate to traditional and emerging technologies. Tablet computers are being promoted for use by adults and children. However, the physical impact of using this type of technology is not known. The findings of this study provide the first tablet-specific evidence to inform guidelines on wise use of tablet computers by children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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