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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I got burned...

My laptop burned my legs?  Do we really need to fund this sort of "health research"?

I have to say that intentionally letting something hot sit on your legs for a long enough period of time to cause measurable damage is beyond stupid.

Why it was just five years ago or so that the real threat of using a laptop in your lap, at least if you were male, was thought to be the heating of testicles to the point of failure as discussed here.

Of course, the real list of laptop danger also includes eyestrain, posture related stuff like arm, shoulder and neck problems, and stress.

On the other hand these injuries are not caused by the laptop, i.e., I was working on my laptop and, like a giant rat trap, it snapped shut on my hand.  Now, at least in my mind, that is what I would call "caused by a laptop".

So after finding this article I became curios - why do people use computers and video games to the point of injury?

I found this site which was quite a good start.  In part the article says:  "The United States bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than three hundred thousand cases of cumulative trauma in American business in 1993, up from a steady annual rate of around seventy thousand in the early 80s. Some of those include work settings with a history of the problem such as meat packing houses, grocery clerks, sign interpreters, and others. But looking at the numbers it is clear that the level of reported cases has dramatically increased beginning in 1984 when desktop computers began to appear. As processing speed increased, prices came down, and the software market matured, computers spread into our work environment at an amazing pace."

Now this is not scientific but it points to at least an element of the problem - there are a lot more computers than their used to by - 50 million by an estimate in the same article - all with people sitting for long periods in front of them.

So I understand about the work aspect of this - I have to sit there for my job - but what about the video gamers out there?

So I did some research and found this site - Video Games and Politics - where they talk about injuries - but these are "hard' injuries like cases where I wack my buddy in the head with the game controller while playing video tennis.

The "I burned my legs with my laptop" problems seems to me best described by this site.  Basically doing something this long so that it results in injury is covered by behavioral addiction disease - the warning signs are these: A demonstrated “lack of control” when trying to stop or limit the amount of time your loved one spends on the video game or laptop.  There's a whole long list of "symptoms" at the bottom.

Personally calling this a disease seems a bit much.  People spend a lot of time on things and have done so over the years - often to very good results, e.g., practicing a sport, art, writing, and so forth.

I think the real issue is one of perspective.  In my youth doing something like getting burned with a laptop for using it far to long would have resulted in ridicule by older cousins or siblings or gotten me a good swift kick in the ass by a parent or uncle.

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