You’ve got new house mates, you need to find the library and try and eat a vegetable or two. Factor in a few late nights at the students union, oh, and dealing with the pressures of studying and living independently for the first time and you might be feeling a little frazzled.
With enough to lose sleep about already, we thought we’d step in so that at least you don’t need to fret about your spinal health too. Using a laptop for any length of time can lead to poor posture and all sorts of aches and pains so make sure you get into good habits for using yours before any problems arise.
So without further ado, here’s the Posture People guide to laptop safety…
- Remember to backup OFTEN! At least once a week on a separate hard drive, (imagine if all your hard work was lost!). The backup should be stored separately from the laptop
- Make sure you lock your laptop away in a drawer, well out of sight when you don’t have it with you
- If you’re getting home insurance, check that your laptop is covered in the case of theft or burglary
- The serial number of a laptop can be registered on www.immobilise.com, a free UK-wide national property register, supported by the UK police forces and used by them, insurers and the second-hand trade
- Install relevant security software on your laptop
- Look out for training opportunities, (particularly around freshers’ week and at the start of courses) that may show you more effective and quicker ways of using certain software meaning you spend less time at your computer
- Use a backpack when carrying your laptop to spread the weight evenly across your shoulders.
- A laptop bag shouldn’t be overloaded – use lockers were possible to store additional books and equipment between lectures
- Padded shoulder straps and a waist strap can help support your shoulders
- Be clever with memory sticks and cloud storage to transport data instead of having to take your laptop everywhere with you
Desk set up:
- Never actually use your laptop on your lap! Number one laptop safety rule – sit at a desk whenever possible!
- Use a desktop computer for longer periods of time if you have the option, if you only have a laptop, consider an external mouse and keyboard
- Choose as large a screen as possible, balance this out with the weight of the laptop
- When using any computer, the screen should be level with your eyes and at an arm’s length away from the user. The keyboard and mouse need to be placed so that arms are parallel to the desk and wrists are straight. Print out a copy of our guide to using a laptop safely
- Eye strain can be caused by using a laptop for excessive amounts of time. Encourage your kids to take breaks every 20 minutes to rest their eyes, blink often or look at things at different distances
- Make sure you have regular eye checks. Big glasses are not going out of fashion any time soon, so wear them if you have to
- Clean the screen regularly to avoid straining to read what’s on the screen
- Make the most of the zoom function to make sure you are not squinting
- Ensure the screen is raised to a safe level, this can be done using a laptop stand
- Consider ergonomic accessories such as an extra mouse or keyboard, wrist rest or document holder rather than hunching up for long periods of time over a tiny device
- Get up and stretch often, walk around. Don’t stay in one position for more than 15 minutes
- Exercise, make sure you are leading an active life, walk places, join a sports club or make the most of the bargain fitness facilities on offer at your university. Yoga and pilates can particularly help with back pain and posture. Swimming is a good all-round exercise. And once you’ve invested in a good pair of trainers, jogging is free
Author: Jo Blood. Jo is our sitting guru, regularly asked to contribute to national papers such as The Guardian, and magazines like Grazia. She was even asked to show the nation on how to set up a workstation at home for the BBC Healthcheck Live show. She’s been working in ergonomics for 15 years and is a co-owner of Posture People.
We hope this guide has come in useful. Download your free guide to using a laptop safely and of course, you’re very welcome to give us a call on 0330 332 0880 if you have any more queries about how to use laptops or which accessories are suitable with them.