Harvard Study Says Tablet PCs are a Pain in the Neck

Paul Lilly

Time flies when you're having fun, which would explain all the lost productivity to mobile apps like Angry Birds, Temple Run, and Kingdom Rush. These and other titles look and play great on tablet PCs, but if you're not careful, your intended 5-minute-turned-60-minute diversion can lead to aches and pains in head, neck and wrist, a new Harvard study warns.

In a study published online in the journal "Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation," researchers examined head and neck postures of tablet users performing common tasks and found that it wasn't always that great.

"The beauty of tablets and other mobile devices is their flexibility," said lead author Jack Dennerlein , director of the Occupational Biomechanics and Ergonomics Laboratory at HSPH. "You can use them almost anywhere and in different ways. You can hold them in your lap; you can hold them in your hand. The problem is that some of the postures people are in when using a tablet can be awkward and lead to discomfort with prolonged use."

Participants tended to position their heads and necks in more flexed positions when using a tablet compared to using a desktop or notebook. Having your head slumped forward with your neck flexed for long periods can lead to neck pain. To avoid this, Dennerlein recommends changing up your posture every 15 minutes and using a case that doubles as a stand.

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