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Evidence-based guidelines for wise use of computers by children

Researchers

Professor Leon Straker, Professor Clare Pollock, Dr Barbara Maslen, Dr Rachel Skoss, Dr Robin Burgess-Limerick (U Qld), Dr Peter Johnston (U Washington), Dr Jack Dennerlein (Harvard)

Description

Computer use by children is now nearly universal in Australia and other affluent communities. Despite evidence that the majority of children experience soreness related to computer use, there were no evidence based guidelines for wise use of computers by children. In reviewing the available evidence there were gaps in knowledge regarding the optimal design of computer display position and desk characteristics. Therefore the aim of this project was to generate evidence regarding desk and display design and develop international guidelines.

Findings

A number of laboratory studies were conducted using youth and children using electromyography (to examine muscle activity) and motion analysis (to examine postures and movement) to examine desk shape and display height options. PC, notebook and tablet computers were compared to pen and paper tasks. A computer modelling study was used to estimate loads in muscles deep in the neck. Draft evidence based guidelines were developed and subjected to international discussion and peer review prior to publication. Guideline materials for children, parents and teachers are now being prepared.

Funding

National Health and Medical Research Council

Publications

Scholarly Journal – Refereed Article

Straker L., Maslen B., Burgess-Limerick R., Johnson P., & Dennerlein J (2010)
Evidence-based guidelines for the wise use of computers by children: Physical development guidelines. Ergonomics, 53(4), 458-477.

Coleman J., Straker L., & Ciccarelli M. (2009)
Why do children think they get discomfort related to daily activities? Work. 32(3), 267-274.

Maslen B., & Straker L. (2009)
A comparison of posture and muscle activity means and variation amongst young children, older children and young adults whilst working with computers. Work, 32(3), 311-320

Straker L., Burgess-Limerick R., Pollock C., & Maslen B. (2009)
The effect of forearm support on children’s head, neck and upper limb posture and muscle activity during computer use. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 19(5), 965-974.

Straker L., Burgess-Limerick R., Pollock C., & Maslen B. (2009)
The influence of desk and display design on posture and muscle activity variability whilst performing information technology tasks. Applied Ergonomics, 40, 852-859.

Straker L., Maslen B., Burgess-Limerick R., & Pollock C. (2009)
Children have less variable postures and muscle activities when using new electronic information technology compared with old paper-based information technology. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 19, e132-e143.

Straker L., Pollock C., & Maslen B (2009)
Principles for the wise use of computers by children. Ergonomics, 52(11), 1386-1401.

Straker L., Skoss R., Burnett A., & Burgess-Limerick R (2009)
Effect of visual display height on modelled upper and lower cervical gravitational moments, muscle capacity and relative strain. Ergonomics, 52(2), 204-221.

Straker L., Burgess-Limerick R., Pollock C., Coleman J., Skoss R., & Maslen B. (2008)
Children’s posture and muscle activity at different computer display heights and during paper information technology use. Human Factors, 50(1), 49-61. IF=1.529

Straker L., Burgess-Limerick R., Pollock C., Murray K., Netto K., Coleman J. & Skoss R. (2008)
The impact of computer display height and desk design on 3D posture during information technology work by young adults. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 18(2), 336-349. IF= 1.884

Straker L., Coleman J., Skoss R., Maslen B., Burgess-Limerick R., & Pollock C. (2008)
A comparison of posture and muscle activity during tablet computer, desktop computer and paper use by young children. Ergonomics, 51(4), 540-555.

Straker L., Pollock C., Burgess-Limerick R., Skoss R., & Coleman J. (2008)
The impact of computer display height and desk design on muscle activity during information technology work by young adults. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 18, 606-617.