Friday, 8 March 2013

Why IPads and Tablets in Schools don't sit well with me.

I confess, I'm a bit of a workstation zealot: the screen on my desk in my office sits on a pile of university Theology tomes so that I am forced to sit up, and I have an ergonomic keyboard and mouse - my antidote to neck and wrist strain. These measures stem from a misspent youth of rugby and high jumping which has left me with a weak back that needs a lot of care. Working at my desk is under control, but my working habits are changing . . . . . 
I am writing this sitting on a train to London stooped over my iPad which is resting on my lap. I can already feel the tension building at the base of my neck. I love the portability and versatility of my iPad, but there are times when my back begs to differ. I am concerned that little discussion seems to have been given to the range of potential health issues surrounding the introduction of mobile technologies into the classroom. We have both a duty of care and a duty to educate young people in their safe and healthy use. 
(If further incentive were required) In our increasingly litigious age, organisations lay themselves open to a potential liability claim if they do not provide adequate health and safety training. (think: 'Working at heights' training for use of ladders, workstation audits, the correct use of Rowing Machines or DT equipment etc.). It is likely to follow that where schools are providing iPads or tablets for use by pupils or staff, that there are potential liability issues, if appropriate training on their safe use is not in place. 
Schools would be well advised to incorporate training into their ICT and/or PSHE curriculums on the health risks surrounding poor posture when using mobile devices. So what form would this take, given that it is almost impossible to maintain good posture when using them? (I am not occupational therapist but) I suspect the best advice is not to spend prolonged periods focused on our iPads, to take regular breaks, and to carry out exercises akin to those recommended on long-haul flights.

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1 comment:

  1. In fairness, we already prescribe rest or "walk around" breaks per hour of desktop usage, so I imagine it would be a simple case of extending that to apply to mobile devices and increasing awareness that the same principles apply even if you're not sitting behind a desk.