Serious readers have turned to tablets to read e-books due to the sheer number of apps that have been developed for Android and iOS. Whether you are downloading content from the library or have a subscription to Scribd or Osyter tablet usage is skyrocketing. Recent research has shown that not only is tablet usage causing Melatonin Suppression, but it is also proven to be bad for your neck.
A recent study of 33 university students who use tablets 50+% of their time. Users were tested in a variety of usage positions and whilst reading and typing for 2-5 minutes. Radiographs and external joint angle measurements were used to assess gravitational demand on the neck and biomechanical ergonomics of the head-neck system during tablet use. The authors hypothesised that tablet use would result in greater gravitational demand than a neutral posture, particularly when used on a lap or flat on a desk. They also speculate that demand will be different for reading vs. typing and finally that gravitational demand will be greater for female users.
Fascinatingly the authors discovered that tablet use increases mechanical demand on neck muscles by 3-5 times more than a neutral position. Using a tablet flat or on lap also had this effect as compared to propped up but whether subject was reading or typing had little effect on level of neck strain; head-neck demand is independent of hand position. A minimal increase in gravitational demand was seen in females but not enough to be significant. The authors conclude “Our findings are important for developing ergonomics guidelines for tablet computer use because they provide quantitative information about the mechanical requirements of the head–neck musculature, which are directly linked to mechanisms of pain-related problems, under several tablet computer usage conditions.” They urge more research to include further variables such as extent and frequency of use and posture, all of which could be significant in inducing neck pain after tablet use.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.