Posted By Clod on December 23, 2011
A computer can be the one piece of home equipment we can’t live without that also drives us crazy! A computer with Internet access provides a window on the world, but often at a price of intrusiveness and demands on our time and physique.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. A well-planned computer area pays dividends in satisfaction and good health for the whole family.
Good planning consists not only of choosing a quiet spot out of the family’s daily traffic, but also in outfitting the area properly to support comfortable use.
The advantages of a quiet location are obvious, but what’s this about proper equipment? When people — whether adults or children — park themselves in front of the computer for long periods, side effects such as repetitive stress injuries, eyestrain and headaches can occur. The proper equipment can minimize such side effects.
In families where everyone uses the computer, setting up a single workspace can be tricky. But it’s doable, thanks to adjustable chairs, articulating keyboard trays that attach to a desk or table and pull out, and swing-arm supports to hold the monitor. Office supply outlets generally stock these items, along with armrests and footstools, to further customize the work area for each user.
There is one caveat to the “one-home-office-fits-all” arrangement. If very young children will also be using the computer, consider buying separate computer furniture for them and setting up two areas.
“Smaller children need tables or desks that fit them, and many furniture companies are making much smaller chairs suited for kids,” said Barbara Merrill. Merrill is physical therapist in Saratoga, Calif., and a certified ergonomist who counsels companies and individuals on physically appropriate work environments.
If you are going to create or upgrade a computer area, start with the chair, because it is the single most important item contributing to comfort. A proper chair allows the trunk to be supported while the arms can move freely.
“Good muscle tone makes it easier to sit up straight, but nobody can remain upright while seated for long periods of time without good back support from the chair,” Merrill said. The height of the chair is also important — it should permit the user to sit with his or her feet on the floor, with about three finger-widths of space between the chair edge and the back of the knees. Merrill prefers a chair with arms that can support the forearms, but comfort is key. “A good chair feels like a comfortable shoe,” she said.