Tablet Use Results in Less Muscle Activity, Repetitive Movements and Poor Posture than Toy Play
A small study examined five children (ages 3-5 years old) participating in three conditions (15 minutes each) in randomized order:
1) playing with traditional age appropriate toys to simulate free play environment (e.g. drawing/crafts, trains, toy cars).
2) playing with iPad2 with a range of age appropriate apps.
3) viewing television with a range of age appropriate programs.
During the different conditions mentioned above three variables were measured: mean and variation in dominant arm hand movement using an ActiGraph GT3X+, wrist, thorax and head posture with Vicon motion analysis and upper trapezius muscle activity with an EMG system.
The results indicated the following:
the most hand movement occurred during traditional play followed by tablet use with television viewing being the least
greatest mean and variation in upper trapezius muscle activity during playing with traditional toys followed by tablet play and than television viewing.
mean neck flexion during tablet play was greater than the other conditions.
the thorax was also more flexed during tablet play than when playing with toys or watching television.
In summary, tablet computer use by young children results in less movement, muscle activity, repetitive wrist movement and poor spinal posture than toy play. All of these issues may put children at risk of musculoskeletal symptom development.
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Reference: Straker, L et al. Movement, posture and muscle activity in young children using tablet computers. Retrieved from the web on 1/31/16 at http://ergonomics.uq.edu.au/iea/proceedings/Index_files/papers/1899.pdf