"We are confronted with a generation of children with a tablet-neck", claims professor physical therapy Annick Timmermans. Some tips to limit the damage.
The 'tablet-neck', which professor Timmermans speaks of, is also familiar to Dr. Jack Dennerlein of the Harvard School of Public Health. He advises to constantly change your posture when you use a tablet, and to take a break every 15 minutes. This helps protect your back and neck. That is way more often than is the case with a computer, for which it is advised to the user to stand up straight at least every hour. One thing you should certainly avoid, the doctor warns, is playing a game on your tablet or smartphone or tablet for hours in the same posture.
A stand for your tablet
Back specialist Dr. Sarah Jarvis gives the tip to use a tablet more like a computer, if you use it a lot. But in order to do this, you need some extra accessories. "You should view your tablet like a mobile computer," she says, "I have a stand for my tablet, so that it can be placed right in front of my nose." The goal is to avoid the 'vulture posture', which is very bad for your back. Don't have a stand or keyboard for your tablet? Then don't use it as a computer for lengthy surf sessions, but only to make quick searches.
Don't believe the advertisements
The first advertisements for tablets were full of happy users who watched videos with the screen on their laps. This is the worst possible posture for your back and neck, because you are constantly looking down. "Having a tablet on your crossed legs for a few minutes is okay, but by all means do not do it any longer than that," says Dennerlein.
Glare on the screen
"When it comes to ergonomics, there are two important factors: visual access and support", Dr. Dennerlein explains. "These are the two things which determine how people position themselves when they use a tablet or smartphone." These reflecting screens are very bad ergonomically speaking, since they force users to bend over to read everything on the screen. Dennerlein demands that more studies be made regarding this problem, but also emphasises that in the meantime we stay conscious of it and that we adapt our posture.
Dr. Sarah Jarvis sees the consequences of tablet or smartphone use grow and grow in her clients. "It has come to a point at which the first question I ask when people come to me with neck or back problems is: 'Do you have a new tablet or laptop?" Do you have neck or back aches from time to time? Don't wait until it gets worse. Even small changes can keep the problem from escalating.