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Computers cripple kids

RSI rears its hoary head

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Children spending prolonged amounts of time on computers are putting their health at risk, according to researchers. They claim thousands of children have already developed medical problems associated with operating computers.

And this time it isn't the ever-present evil of radiation that is being highlighted, but bad posture and an old favourite: repetitive strain injury.

Dr. Leon Straker, a researcher in Australia, says we could be on the threshold of a global disaster.

He told the BBC: "This is the first generation of children who have used computers from early childhood while their muscles and bones are developing. If we don't get knowledge quickly about how to use computers safely, then I think we will see a lot of children disabled from using computers."

Anna Franklin, a chiropractor who deals with cases of children injured through use of computers, says there will be an increase of RSI and bad posture among the online generation.

While schools can play their part, it is at home that the damage is really done. "We need to be setting healthy habits for children in school because they're not going to get RSI in the 45 minutes that they use computers in school," said head teacher, Kim Beat. "It's when they're at home doing school work or playing games that they could develop it."

She has called RSI specialists into her north London school, and following their visit, has said that all new equipment will have to be adjustable in size to accommodate children from five to 11 years.

Employment lawyers have warned that institutions could face legal action unless preventative measures are taken now. ®

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