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Children in Blackpool have been taking school lessons with a difference.
The lessons involved the Council providing specific classes to schools to educate pupils about the best ways to use their technology in order to avoid health problems and debilitating injuries later in life.
Blackpool Council is believed to be one of the few authorities around the country offering these types of health and safety lessons directly in to schools.
A recent ergonomic1 study found that looking down at a tablet is up to five times more demanding on neck muscles than a regular seated and can be linked with long-term pain.
The damage is done over a long period of time and can often be irreversible and permanent before the person even feels any pain.
At the same time, recent research by media regulator Ofcom2 also showed that 75% of children aged 8-11 have access to tablet computers, 88% have access to a games console and 32% own a mobile phone.
In light of these statistics, the Council has been working with 26 local primary schools to deliver a set of lessons reminding youngsters to look after their bodies while using this technology.
Cllr John Jones, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member responsible for schools, said: “The rise of tablets and smartphones in our everyday lives over the last few years has been huge. Not only are they used in thousands of people’s homes but many of our schools also use them as handy educational aids.
“That is all well and good but we need to make sure that both parents and children are using the technology safely.
“Spending hours looking down at a screen or constantly pressing buttons on a games controller can have a detrimental effect on people’s bodies and can lead to muscle injuries later in life.
“We aren’t the tablet police – and we don’t want to be. However, if we can get the facts through to children and their parents that they need to be sat up properly when using their technology and that it is beneficial to their eyes to take regular breaks from a screen then hopefully they can avoid health problems later in life.”
Constant use of hand held devices like smart phones and games controllers can cause permanent back, neck and shoulder problems, as well as damaging the nerves in arms, wrists and hands.
At the same time, constantly looking at electronic screens without breaks can cause eye strain.
The lessons included teaching pupils about the best way to use their handheld devices in order to avoid risk of injury.
To re-inforce the message from the specific lessons, children were asked to design their own posters to help remind other children about the best way to use their technology properly.
All the posters were displayed by the entrance to Central Library in Blackpool town centre.
The best poster, penned by Eliya Manlove, 11, from Baines Endowed Primary School, was also sent out to every school in the town as a reminder of the importance of health and safety.
Headteacher at Baines’ Endowed Primary School, Jo Snape, added “The children very much enjoyed designing the posters and it certainly helped focus their minds on how to use their technology properly.
“Eliya was excited to see her winning poster in print and has taken one to each classroom so the message is shared with all our pupils – not just those who benefitted from these specific lessons.”