Standing desks have gotten a lot of attention in recent years. Several studies have pointed to the benefits of creating a computer workstation where users stand instead of sit.
For kids, some studies suggest a standing desk can improve focus and encourage kids to burn more calories. Depending on the size and age of family members, and the use of different tech devices (tablets, e-readers, laptops), finding a system to improve the general erognomics of family computer use can be a challenge. But here’s a start.
Try it first. Before you invest in an expensive standing desk or other gadgets, try putting the computer on your kitchen counter or island. Make sure the surface is stable and will not tip over if a toddler climbs (bookshelves or wardrobes can topple onto a child). Use a small, sturdy stool for younger kids to reach. A child’s eye-level gaze should hit the top of the computer screen.
Take breaks. Using a standing desk can still cause strain in the back, neck, and shoulders. The bottom line — any concentrated time in front of a screen can interrupt circulation. Get blood flowing with handy computer break programs that signal users to stop, stretch, or look away. Try apps for the Mac like Coffee Break ($2.99, iTunes) or Awareness (Free, iamfutureproof.com/tools/awareness/), or Workrave (workrave.org) for the PC.
Educate kids on ergonomics. Backs, necks and knees are casualties of prolonged screen viewing. Improper neck and shoulder alignment can cause headaches or nausea, even jaw pain. Help kids learn to stretch, take screen breaks, and drink plenty of water to hydrate muscles.
Shop around. You can find a wide variety of standing computer desks, from inexpensive models (Mobile Notebook Computer Cart, $49, Target.com) to adjustable platforms that allow you to change from sitting to standing (Varidesk Pro, $275, Varidesk.com).