This article was in this week’s TES (24th March). I assume if you contact the TES they would be able to give you a contact for the Body Action Campaign (or they may be on the web – I haven’t checked but I probably will).
Health Alert for keyboard kids
An Action group is offering courses to protect teachers and children from the risk of repetitive strain injury that could be caused by computers. The Body Action Campaign is concerned that children in particular are vulnerable to long-term health problems because of the Government’s determination to increase computer use. The campaign’s founder, Bunny Martin, says awareness needs to be increased because the Health and Safety Executive’s powers which protect adults in the workplace do not apply to children. She said: “We need to tell children that, just as their favourite football stars have to protect themselves against injury on the pitch, so children have to protect themselves against health problems when using computers at school or playing computer games at home.”It isn’t always necessary to use expensive ergonomic furniture in schools. The best furniture in the world won’t protect you if you aren’t using it properly.
“You can think about your posture and you can use simple things such as makeshift footrests and cushions to improve how you sit at a keyboard. One-day courses are being offered around the country and the Body Action Campaign, as well as approaching individual schools, will be working with education authorities to organise in-service training sessions. According to the Ergonomics Society, the RSI risk is increased when schools buy adult-sized furniture to provide community Internet access out of school hours. Society member Mic Porter said: “Forcing children to work at computer desks which are clearly not designed for their size could give rise to accidents now as well as storing up future musculoskeletal health problems for the next generation.”
Comment 1: Thanks for info – I find this very interesting and will certainly follow it up!
Comment 2: Bunny Martin was one of the RSI International Awareness Day organizers. I’ll see if I can find a web page for BAC.
Comment 3: That’s great – please let me know how you get on with the search. Public RSI Awareness needs to be raised – for the sufferers who are innocent of what their problem/options for help and support are – and for everyone else – the potential sufferers of tomorrow, their employers, family (and the list goes on). All very well talking about it within this small community (which I find most beneficial and comforting – I am no longer alone with this!). However, it needs to be extended outside the world of e-mails, postings and websites which although brilliant is still very limited in reaching the people (so to speak).
Comment 4: I am an assistant leader with a scout group and have been doing the IT badge with the troop over the past few weeks. Informing boys of the 10-14 ages of the dangers of computing without frightening them is a very fine balance. I found that the best approach was to make them aware of how they used a computer where they sat etc, followed by encouraging them to take breaks regardless of whether they are typing a letter or playing on a games console. The older scouts know I have RSI (since I have to have the odd evening off), and that certainly helps. If I stopped one scout getting RSI then I would be very happy.
Comment 5: I have not worked with children quite as young as your group, my youngest student was 15. However, I wonder if you could tell me if the group are absorbing and practicing what you tell them about working with computers? I only say this, because although I reached my students with the subject – I am really not sure that it made any difference to their computer use. Not only that, even I taught it, they did not fully practice it! My fault I am suffering? Yes, to a greater extent I suppose so – but I really felt that I was in control and would know when to stop before and if any damage was impending – wrong again! This is why I think a more intense programme of teaching on the subject is vital.
Comment 6: I meant to say that it is good to know that some people are tutoring children on this subject.
Comment 7: I can’t find the Body Action Campaign’s details. I must have mis-filed them. The Web Page that held them no longer exists. I thought this site might interest you. This is a page for children. There are mailing lists specifically about this but I haven’t got their names to hand. They may well be listed at tifaq.org. There are some UK lists that might be relevant. E-mail email@example.com putting simply lists in the message and you’ll get a list! I think mailbase now has a url too, if so it would just be www in front of mailbase.ac.uk. When I taught (not children) I tried to make students aware of the dangers, but they didn’t seem to take the point. I now concentrate on other matters. Not that I don’t think this work with children isn’t crucial, it is. The Government here is pushing computing in schools without any thought of the dangers.