Children are susceptible to injuries from improper use of computer equipment, but following some simple rules can help reduce the potential for muscle strain, eye strain, and other problems.

One rule is to be careful not to place the computer monitor too high—particularly because, as Vicki Napper, director of technology and teacher education at Utah’s Weber State University, notes, “A child’s head is proportionally larger, and therefore heavier, than an adult’s.”

Using chairs that adjust to different children’s heights—or even allowing kids to work while standing—helps maintain the optimal head angle of straight ahead or slightly downward for viewing a monitor, according to Napper.

Other recommendations from ergonomics experts:

• A monitor distance of 26 to 40 inches is considered ideal.

• Smaller, child-sized computer mice will ease hand strain on children.

• Keyboards should be easy on the touch and with keys fairly close together.

The author also provides a list of companies that offer products which can help improve classroom computer ergonomics:

1. Grammar: Adjustable chairs (http:// www.bs.grammar.de).

2. Kensington Technology Group: Child-sized mice (http://www.kensington. com).

3. Microsoft: Child-sized mice (http:// www. microsoft.com).

4. Air Technology Corp.: Adjustable footstools (http://www.airtech.net).

5. Jazzercise: Screensavers that encourage stretching muscles during breaks from working on the computer (http:// www.cyberstretch.com).