As a Computer Science student, I already spend the majority of my time in front of a computer whether its in my room, in the library, in a café or in a lecture hall, and this is BEFORE quarantine! Now that everyone is in lockdown and are forced to use a computer/ any electronic device that can do virtual meetings, we all now have to stare at a screen for prolonged periods of time which can cause health issues. This blog has some tips to avoid that, however it assumes the device being used is a laptop.
First thing is to get either a laptop stand or an external monitor that has height adjust. This would mean that you wouldn’t put as much strain on to your neck compared to if you just purely used your laptop. The correct height of your screen should be around eye level so you don’t have to bend your neck/tilt your head. If you can’t afford an external monitor, that’s fine, just focus on get your screen to be eye-level. For me since I will be having a lot of text displayed on my screen due to the nature of my course, its essential for me to have a monitor bigger than my laptop so it can reduce the strain on my eyes. If those options prove pricey or inconvenient, you could always use a stack of books or objects in your room to prop your laptop up.
Second thing, make sure the chair used has a backrest AND headrest and is height adjustable. This is to maintain a good posture so your back can thank you later on. Correct height of chair should be when you’re sat down, your legs should be planted on the ground with knees at 90 degrees. If you can afford a proper chair, a good hack is to tie a flat board to your back or use a backpack that has straps with back support!
Unfortunately my current chair doesn’t have a headrest and so I constantly need to stretch my neck or (might sound frightening) ‘pop’ my neck similar to how a chiropractor does it except less professionally.
Third thing, take regular breaks. If your course hasn’t hammered it into you enough already, taking regular breaks to rest your eyes is important as it ensures they aren’t too strained, as looking at an object close up i.e. your screen causes the muscles in your eyes to contract. Sure in the student life, it probably won’t happen as often due to ‘crunch’ times or the ‘rushing-assignment-the-night-before’ times (I’m sure we’ve all been there). The proper way according to the Internet is to take regular 15 mins breaks away from the desk every 45 mins. Whether its taking the trash out, making something in the kitchen or cleaning, its something that is physical and forces your other muscles to move. I personally find that restricting as when I’m in ‘the zone’ where I’m very focused and motivated on the current assignment, I will be unwilling to step away out of fear that when I come back, I’m gonna procrastinate. So for me I usually work for 2 hour sessions which is the most I can focus before feeling the effects of strain kicking in. So for you, its up to you to decide how long to work for depending on how well you deal with tiredness, otherwise you can go with the internets suggestion as a good starting point.
Anyway those are the tips that I have done or used myself. I’m well aware of the numerous other methods that are needed for prolonged usage of computers, but for those, you must also consider whether they’re worth it for the price/ the type of work done. For example, there exist desks with adjustable height, however they are often expensive and it wouldn’t make sense to get one if you’re in your final year. But I hope you’ll find the information above as well as my experience with them helpful. Thanks in advance for reading!