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Medicine Displays GUI Input Devices IT Science

Doctor Warns of the Hidden Danger of Touchscreens 242

Posted by samzenpus
from the touch-too-much dept.
snydeq writes "Dr. Franklin Tessler discusses the hidden stress-related injuries of touchscreen use, and how best to use smartphones, tablets, and touch PCs to avoid them. 'Touchscreen-oriented health hazards are even more insidious because most people aren't even aware that they exist. The potential for injury from using touchscreens will only go up ... as the rise of the touchscreen means both new kinds of health hazards and more usage in risky scenarios,' Tessler writes, providing tips for properly positioning touchscreens and ways to avoid repetitive stress injuries and eyestrain."
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Doctor Warns of the Hidden Danger of Touchscreens

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @02:30PM (#38666480)

    you could have your eye out

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      I wouldn't worry about your eyes. Just think what happens when you eat the things.

      • by Rizimar (1986164)
        Wait, we're not supposed to eat them? Why wasn't there a large and blatant warning on the package?
    • On that note I'd like to say a word about sharp edges. Whomever it was who decided that aesthetics outweighed the practical concerns about putting a right angle at the edge of my MBP was a bloody fool. A 1mm chamfer doesn't seem too much to ask.

      Before you all jump in to call me a fool for buying one, I didn't; it was an insurance replacement.

  • by icebike (68054) * on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @02:31PM (#38666486)

    More hype to sell the same tripe.

    Seems to be simply latching onto the current fad toy and trying to saddle it with the same things they have been attributing to computers since the 80's.
    There is nothing new in the article, simply attributing the same (largely imaginary) "diseases" to a different activity. But by mentioning touch screens they grab the headlines. Nothing about a touch screen forces you into the same position, viewing distance, or hand movements, in fact a tablet is probably the remedy for such complaints more than the cause.

    But they trot out the same stuff they were crying about with desktop computers: Repeated motion injuries, Posture, Eyestrain.

    I'm surprised they left off testicular heating [chicagotribune.com].

    Really? Touch screens?
    This looks like building a case for more insurance fraud [carsonfury.com] if you ask me.

    • by ClintJCL (264898)
      Considering I avoid touchscreens as much as possible (vastly preferring my wife's android phone with a real keyboard and trackball; also great if your touchscreen develops a deadspot), and get repetitive stress injuries easily (had to drive one-handed for 6 months once from lifting a beer keg into my car), I see no reason to dispute this article. Touchscreens absolutely put more wear and tear on parts of my body never accustomed to it. At least keyboard-strain is something I've learned to cope with -- don't
      • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @02:43PM (#38666654) Journal

        I...get repetitive stress injuries easily (had to drive one-handed for 6 months once from lifting a beer keg into my car)

        Genuine question: how does lifting a keg equate to repetitive stress? I can understand pulling a muscle or something, but lifting something in and out of the car once or twice seems far from all but the most excessive definition of 'repetitive'.

        • Guessing he could have damaged his ulnar nerve. Which could have been compromised by repetitive stress and the heavy weight was the final injury that put his arm out of commission. Just guessing as I said.
      • by iamhassi (659463)

        Considering I avoid touchscreens as much as possible (vastly preferring my wife's android phone with a real keyboard and trackball; also great if your touchscreen develops a deadspot), and get repetitive stress injuries easily (had to drive one-handed for 6 months once from lifting a beer keg into my car), I see no reason to dispute this article. Touchscreens absolutely put more wear and tear on parts of my body never accustomed to it.

        Actually if you read the article you would have realized that it has nothing to do with touchscreens, the reasons given for the "stress" was eye strain and typing with thumbs which is required for any phone.

        • by ClintJCL (264898)
          Curses. :)

          [Though I think most of the comments here would apply to both, and they were what drove me to post my comment. :)]

        • by geekoid (135745)

          "which is required for any phone."
          not a touch screen phone.

      • by AlienIntelligence (1184493) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @02:58PM (#38666844)

        and get repetitive stress injuries easily (had to drive one-handed for 6 months once from lifting a beer keg into my car),

        Fuck man, if you got injured from repetitively lifting beer kegs into your car...
        and you're not doing it for a living, you have other problems.

        -AI

      • Let go of the keg?

    • by iamhassi (659463) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @02:44PM (#38666670) Journal

      More hype to sell the same tripe.

      Here's the reasons listed in the article:
      --Repeated motion injuries, like using your thumbs to type
      --unnatural postures and forces, such as tilting their hands too far inward or outward while tapping or putting force on their wrists while typing.
      --Eyestrain, either because the characters and images aren't clear or because the screen is obscured by glare or reflections

      Although the article also contradicts itself: "tablets and smartphones almost guarantee such awkward use because they can be accessed almost anywhere and in any position -- most of which involve poor posture."

      But doesn't that also mean people can hold the devices in more natural positions, making them far safer than PCs or laptops? Also the same argument could be made that books are dangerous because they can be accessed almost anywhere and in any position.

      And that's pretty much the entire article. Nothing to see here, move along.

      • by icebike (68054) *

        But doesn't that also mean people can hold the devices in more natural positions, making them far safer than PCs or laptops? Also the same argument could be made that books are dangerous because they can be accessed almost anywhere and in any position.

        Exactly. The remedy is built into the device.

        No one is forced to sit in front of a tablet all day typing as was the case with desktop computers. Even those that do find a way to do hours of writing on a tablet have long since given up on the touch screen and have added keyboards. These are casual use devices.

        You can walk around with a tablet, you move it when you become uncomfortable, you can easily seek the best lighting angle, and if your eyes bother you, you hold it at a different distance, angle, adj

    • So used to defending "new" technology that you can't allow legitimate concerns to be raised?

      I get it, I'm surrounded by technologically ignorant people who respond irrationally to the stuff. But it is no reason to become irrationally defensive of the technology-- for those people, it does make sense to not discuss the topic at any depth but one does not have to get down to their level either.

      TFA is nothing new and seems so obvious that its hardly worth discussion. As somebody who deals with those "non-iss

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      If you bothered to read instead of immediately jumping to prove how much smarter you are, you would see that their claim is that touchscreens are worse than normal interfaces for two primary reasons:

      1) Lack of tactile feedback causes users to push against the screen with several times the force used on a keyboard, without even realizing it.
      2) The fact that even the lightest touch can cause something to happen forces users to hover their fingers over the keyboard when thinking, whereas with a normal keyboard

      • by icebike (68054) *

        If you bothered to read instead of immediately jumping to prove how much smarter you are, you would see that their claim is that touchscreens are worse than normal interfaces for two primary reasons:

        1) Lack of tactile feedback causes users to push against the screen with several times the force used on a keyboard, without even realizing it.
        2) The fact that even the lightest touch can cause something to happen forces users to hover their fingers over the keyboard when thinking, whereas with a normal keyboard you can rest your fingers on the keys without accidentally pressing one.

        These two factors increase the likely hood of developing an RSI through touchscreen use as compared to keyboard use. The only real flaw with the article is that they don't really give any suggestions as to how to get around these problems, except to use a bluetooth keyboard, which isn't much of a solution.

        I read the entire article. None of it is believable.

        Re their point 1: Utterly Stupid. People figure out the force they need in the first 45 seconds of use. Who do you ever see mashing their touch screen?
        Re Point 2: hovering a finger will not induce RSI, because there is no stress involved, and the hover is not held for that long. Besides, point two directly contradicts point one. The article is internally inconsistent, which is indicative of speculation rather than actual testing and observation.

        In short

    • by geekoid (135745)

      It is not an imaginary disease. Why do people think that?
      It's real, studied and documented.

      Warning people they may experience pain fom ding a common task like using a touchscreen is responsible. People don't think about it.

      Many people using a touch screen phone with one hand. Moving the thumb around the keyboard. Doing that repeatedly can cause pain.

      "Repeated motion injuries, Posture, Eyestrain.
      All of which are proven to happen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by stephanruby (542433)

      There is nothing new in the article, simply attributing the same (largely imaginary) "diseases" to a different activity.

      I don't know anything about other diseases and I admit that the "testicular heating" you mentioned sounds made up (although, I don't know anything about that one either), but are you saying that the carpal tunnel syndrome (which is one of those "repeated motion injuries") is also one of those imaginary diseases? If you do, please provide one link from anyone who believes carpal tunnel syndrome is made up. I'm not asking you for multiple sources, or even a reliable source, I'm asking you to provide a single

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      touchscreens are shit for your wrists and fingers.

      what amazes me is that they claim it as hidden risk. no it's not hidden risk, it's in plain view. it's so fucking obvious that a touchscreen is going to ruin your hands faster than touch typing. even faster than two finger typing. you can't rest your hands. the devices can't be propped up. the input device and the screen are at the same point, either your neck or your hands are going to get the shaft and quite easily both. not to mention that you'll end up h

  • pickles, books, refrigerators and just about anything if you use them too often and too violently.

    So what?
    • by ClintJCL (264898)
      Nobody could ever repeat those motions as much as they repeat motions on a device they hold in their hands. Unless you're opening 30 pickle jars a second for 8 hrs a day, it's a disingenuous comparison.
      • by Megahard (1053072)
        I was thinking of problems with pickles other than the jar. The kind that gets you a trip to the emergency room.
        • by Kenja (541830)

          I was thinking of problems with pickles other than the jar. The kind that gets you a trip to the emergency room.

          Now expand this line of thinking to include door knobs.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          If you can't poop out a pickle, you have other problems.

  • If we sounded an alarm for every little thing out there that is bad for us, we would all be wearing noise protection gear to save our poor sensitive little ears from damage. Oh and forbid we strive to adapt to new things. We might evolve! Run for the hills!
  • My wrist hurts! (Score:5, Informative)

    by coldsalmon (946941) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @02:38PM (#38666596)

    I'm wearing a wrist brace right now because I held my Nook Color one-handed for too long over the course of a couple of weeks. Obviously I can't say for sure that this was the cause of my pain, but it gets worse when when I hold it in one hand only, and better when I use both hands or support it some other way. I wish I had thought of this before I started using the Nook. Yeah it's not a problem of national concern, and the article uses absurdly alarmist rhetoric, but these are real sources of pain and it's always good to have tips on how to avoid pain.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by medv4380 (1604309)
      You would have had the same injury doing that with a book. This article is clearly written by the radical fringe who won't be happy unless man is back in the forests eating strait from the trees.

      Diseases caused by unnatural postures and forces

  • My eyesight has been dwindling over the past 3 or 4 years since I got my 1st Tablet. Now I have to wear reading glasses on a string around my neck everywhere I go! I'm thinking a class action is in order. How many more vibrant, enthusiastic 42yo's must go blind before this atrocity is righted????
     
    PS: Get off my lawn!

    • My eyesight has been dwindling over the past 3 or 4 years since I got my 1st Tablet. Now I have to wear reading glasses on a string around my neck everywhere I go! I'm thinking a class action is in order. How many more vibrant, enthusiastic 42yo's must go blind before this atrocity is righted????

      Absolutely! And we should get the crack legal team that took down the jerks responsible for the Opti-Grab!

  • by pak9rabid (1011935) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @02:40PM (#38666622)
    Apple: You're touching it wrong.
  • ... even when we get to the point that computers can read our minds, and know exactly what we want them to do without interacting with it physically in any way at all, that doctors will still find some way to say how bad they are for us.
  • ... probably from the same people who told us that cellphones cause cancer, gas station explosions yada yada yada
  • This sounds too much like an opening for tort lawyers to start suing manufacturers and employers.

  • And all I could see on that page was...

    Quack, Quack, Quack.....

    Anyone else feel the Quackyness of the "doctors" concerns?

  • When I got my first smartphone, I noticed my thumb started clicking and got sore when using my smartphone a lot. I changed the way I held it and no more problems.

    "Doctor, it hurts when I do this, ..."

  • Aww, did ickle diddums not get the iPad he wanted for Christmas?
  • "Your iPhone could KILL YOU! Tune in for our special report, today at 5:30."

  • There is even more to worry about than just RSI.
    I've wanted to whack some of those pinheads myself.

    Now, I don't want to go off on a rant here but:
    Put the damn thing DOWN!
    Give it a frickin rest!

  • Three days after I got my Kindle Fire I had the worst Tendinitis flare up since I was a teenager.... I had to start holding/using the fire completely differently to prevent more injuries. Biggest downside of the damn thing!
  • [faced with a 20th century computer] Scotty: Computer! Computer? [He's handed a mouse, and he speaks into it] Scotty: Hello, computer. Dr. Nichols: Just use the keyboard. Scotty: Keyboard. How quaint.
  • My continual use of keyboards for the past 34 years of my life.
  • People need to hit a gym once in a while if a tablet is going to take them out.

  • Watch the way you slide that finger...
    Don't pinch and zoom that picture the wrong way...
    Don't overwhelm those accelerometers when playing your favorite games
    If you flick don't try to read that text until it stops!

  • by kbahey (102895) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @06:25PM (#38668908) Homepage

    I can confirm that ever since I switched to checking Twitter and Facebook (via TweetDeck) heavily on my Android phone (Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 then Arc), I have experienced wrist pain and numbness.

    And yes, I spend a couple of hours daily, because I was following the news closely in a troubled part of the world.

    Once I got those wrist cuffs that prevent the wrist joint from moving, the pain went away.

  • by Glonoinha (587375) on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @09:44PM (#38670198) Journal

    Honestly the biggest danger of touch screens isn't the RSI - it's crashing your car.
    Don't ask how I know this.

  • by ed1park (100777) <.ed1park. .at. .hotmail.com.> on Wednesday January 11, 2012 @11:40PM (#38670850)

    I've seen parents give their little kids iphones to keep them busy/distracted, and they will stare at that the phone for hours watching videos just 5-6 inches from their faces. This has got to be bad for their eyesight especially when they are 3 or 4 years old still developing...

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