It used to be that we would lie in bed or sit on the sofa and read a book, but these days many people are replacing their paperback friends with tablets, iPads and Kindles. This electronic invasion has infiltrated all areas of life, with tablets becoming more and more visible in the business sector. You can see them being used in meeting rooms, banks, busy fast food outlets, restaurants, cafés, car parks, mechanic garages, etc. As a matter of fact, tablet usage is becoming so prevalent that they are starting to pop up in educational institutions, from universities right down to primary schools; thereby ensuring that the next generation is well versed in their operation.
This just goes to show much impact tablets, such as the iPad, are estimated to have on our day-to-day life, which is why now is the time to educate ourselves and others on how to use tablets safely and without causing yourself harm in the long-term. This may sound absurd, but in the same way that improper, long-term computer use can result in repetitive strain injuries, using tablets whilst adopting unnatural or irregular positions can have the same result; which is why we think it is imperative that ergonomic advice for tablet users is accessible.
It is not implausible to suggest that tablet users may actually be in more danger of developing an RSI than computer users. Kindle and iPad users, for example, will undoubtedly have the device closer to their face than they would a TV screen or computer monitor, which will in turn cause a great deal more strain on the eyes. The eye strain caused by tablet use will likely be exacerbated by the reduction in blinking that occurs with screen use (on average you blink once for every three times you normally would).
Ergonomic Tablet Accessories, Hints & Tips
There are many other reasons why tablet use can be so damaging. Think of the strain it puts on your elbows whilst they're being rested on the hard surface of a table, or the wear on the disks that make up your spine; caused by lying down with an arched back. Fortunately, this is one of those situations where it is possible to have our cake and eat it too, you just have to be smart and aware when going about it.
Focus On Posture
One of the things that people are slowly starting to forget is the importance of a good posture. You can usually tell those people who spend their days sat at a computer by their hunched shoulders, bent back and visibly aching muscles.
Tablet users need to be especially aware that this is something that can easily affect them, and that even when they are engrossed in Fruit Ninja or the e-book that they are reading, it is essential that they are aware of how they are sat.
Avoid Lying Down
A lot of us feel that lying down is the most comfortable position that we can assume, but there is a reason why we have seats and not miniature beds. The human body requires a certain amount of support, which is not always given when lying down, in fact lying down for anything other than sleep often engages the muscles in your back.
This is the reason why many people experience back pain when they sleep and get woken up by it; so whilst it may be comfortable at the time, using your tablet whilst lying in bed or on the sofa is actually causing you greater discomfort and sleep deprivation.
Look After Your Arms
When holding a tablet many people will rest their arms on a hard surface, or will hold their head in one hand whilst using the other to operate the touch screen, which can lead to muscle soreness and may even result in chronic RSIs like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Ergonomic accessories are available for tablet users, and are designed to be used comfortably and conveniently, without requiring you to place your body in precarious positions. Some people may not consider them to be a worthwhile investment, but believe us when we say that you will be willing to pay (and will probably end up paying) a whole lot more to get rid of the pain that accompanies tendinitis and many other RSIs.
Take Care Of Your Eyes
Your eye-sight naturally deteriorates as the years go by, so it is probably wise not to quicken the process. We have already mentioned how tablet users could be damaging their eyes, but it is obviously infeasible to use tablets and follow the computer rule of keeping the screen at arms length from your face; so what can you do?
An ergonomic desk arm or tablet stand may help you when reading from a tablet or kindle, as you do not have to support it and can be further away from it. Another way to ward against damaging your eyes would be to regulate the use of your tablet to an average of an hour a day. One point that we cannot stress enough though is that you should never use tablets in poorly lit areas, as the contrast between a dark room and a tablet's bright back-light will do your eyes no favours.
If you're looking for more information on how to prevent RSIs from developing and on how to use computers, laptops and tablet safely, check out our ultimate guide to repetitive strain injuries. It contains a wealth of useful information, and even contains details on how to get rid of an RSI if one has already developed.