Laptops Are Bad For Your Health: 5 Reasons Why |

Laptops Are Bad For Your Health: 5 Reasons Why

By Tim | Ergonomics

Feb 14

Laptops are bad for your health. In fact, laptops are really, really bad for your health. Here’s why.

Courtesy Death To Stock

Laptops seem like a good option for people on the move, but the reality is that they are far from ideal. Ergonomically speaking, they are bad news for most of your body and will happily mess up your neck, back, hands and wrists, before you can say “RSI”.

Earlier in the year, I released my new free video series, Your Workdesk Makeover.
When Video 2 in the series Blueprint For A Great Day came out, I described briefly how much I hate seeing people use laptops.

Knowing what I know about ergonomics, I cringe whenever I spy someone sitting on a train or plane, or even at an office desk, while typing on one of these monstrosities.

Laptops Are Bad For Your Health: 5 Reasons To Stop Using Laptops

Here’s 5 reasons why you should stop using laptops:

1. Laptops Make You Bend Your Neck
The majority of laptop screens cannot be removed from the keyboard. While it feels handy to flip it open and start work, you are forced to look down on it, all the time.

This position makes you bend your neck while you work and places strain on the muscles in the back of your neck and between your shoulders.

Ever look up from your machine and feel an ache in the small of your back?
Now you know why.

2. The Laptop Keyboard Is Cramped
Laptops by their nature are designed to be mobile, but rugged, with plenty of extra plastic to shield their sensitive interiors. This means that even a comparatively large laptop will have a relatively small keyboard.

The individual keys are often tightly packed together, making it tricky to type correctly. This creates an unconscious tendency to tense your arms and shoulders, which sets you up for more problems down the road.

3. The Laptop Keyboard Is Off-Centre (And You Can’t Fix It)
Following on from my previous point, the keyboard is centred around the screen.

As I discuss in my video series, this is completely wrong!
The correct location for a keyboard is usually pushed over to the right a bit, so that your hands are centred against the screen, while your fingers hover over the “home” keys.

Of course, on a laptop you can’t move the keyboard, so you’re stuck with it in that position. This makes you type at a poor angle and twist your body at the same time.

4. The Laptop Trackpad Interferes With The Keyboard
To make things even worse, the keyboard is usually set far away from the bottom edge of the laptop, in order to accommodate the Trackpad – the laptop’s answer to the mouse.

While I have nothing against trackpads per se (in fact I would often recommend an external Trackpad, over a traditional mouse), in this style of laptop design, they just get in the way:

  • You have to reach further away from your body in order to type
  • Trackpads are often too sensitive, resulting in sudden cursor movements when you least expect it

The result is that you have nowhere to rest your arms and you bend your wrists to avoid touching the Trackpad while you type.

5. The Laptop Screen Is Too Small
Finally, just as the keyboard is too small, the screen is also too small.

Yes, I know there are larger screens available these days, but they’re still not the same as a properly adjusted desktop monitor, set at the correct viewing height and distance.

On top of that, laptops are often used in cramped conditions, with poor lighting. – Think of the continual changes you might get on a train, between bright sunlight and dark tunnels, and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

These issues combine to make you squint at the screen and are a recipe for eye strain and headaches, not to mention yet more tension in your shoulders and neck.

Laptops Are Bad For Your Health

Laptops may be the bee’s knees for mobile working, but they’re the wasp’s sting for RSI. Any one of the above factors would be an issue, but combine them all together and you’ve got something truly obnoxious.

“Laptops may be the bee’s knees for mobile working, but they’re the wasp’s sting for RSI.” – Tim Bader

If you already have a laptop, then there are ways to make them work for you, which you can find here.

If you’re thinking of buying a laptop, then my advice is don’t, unless you can get it as part of a docking station. There are much better ways to spend your time, money and energy.

The classic desktop PC may be “dead”, according to the marketers, but there’s still no better way to get work done. Granted, you will have to set it up correctly to prevent RSI, but that’s why I created Your Workdesk Makeover.

To see how you should use your PC, watch Your Workdesk Makeover now.

Discussion Question:
What’s your take on laptops? Are they a menace or a comfort?


About the Author

I'm Tim Bader, founder of and the Ergonomic Toolbox training course. I am a writer, author, blogger and church leader, and I help people to overcome RSI and live comfortably with technology. When I'm not writing, helping or training people, I live at home with my wife, two teenage kids and Playstation.

  • Lacerose Ibid says:

    Sherry Atbutterfly here, I used a laptop at a former job as that was where the communication was between all of us who worked different days. I had trouble with it. I thought the problem was me and so I dismissed the pain. I bought a laptop so that I would have my own computer when I moved. I did not realize all the reasons as you mentioned were agravating my arthritis and DDD in my neck and back. Now that I have taken your most excellent course I will be getting my PC shipped to me soon. It will make my life so much better. Thank you again for your course and videos! 🙂

  • Tim Bader says:

    Ouch! That sounds nasty!
    Could have been either an MRI or a CT (although MRI is more detailed), but either way, it just goes to show…
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • I agree. Laptops force our bodies into unnatural positions. After using a laptop for a few weeks, I developed a pain in the back of my neck that ran up my head. I also found my head vibrating in an odd way. My doctor couldn’t figure out why I was having these problems, even after I mentioned it all starting right within a couple of weeks of getting the laptop. She sent me for one of those scans in a big machine. I don’t remember what it’s called. MRI? Ct Scan? Everything came back “within normal range.”

    A few months later, we bought a new PC and I stopped using the laptop regularly. Ta da! I don’t know how long after we got the computer, but one day, I noticed my head wasn’t shaking, nor did my neck and head hurt. I don’t intend to use a laptop regularly ever again, if I can help it.

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