Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Reading Habits #15: The bitter taste of my tablet

I didn’t see any movies over the long Diwali weekend, and regrettably, will have to skip today’s Overlooked Films at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom. But I’ll be heading over there to read other contributions.

© Wikimedia Commons
Meanwhile, my mind is troubled by something else—the grim possibility that I may have to use my tablet sparingly or not use it at all for some time. It all depends on how my fingers and hands behave, on the pain and the stiffness caused by holding the tablet in my left hand and using my right forefinger to flip apps and pages.

The tablet is sleek and it weighs a bit, which I realised only after my fingers started aching. The pain and stiffness goes away if I don't use the tablet for a while. That seldom happens. The lure of the tablet is too strong.

Doctors have a term for pain induced by prolonged use of gadgets and electronic devices like tablets, smartphones, and laptops—RSI or repetitive strain injury. They label everything, don’t they? Like jam bottles. They warn me that if I don’t take preventive action now, then I'm heading for chronic pain—in my hands and fingers due to my tablet and in my neck and back due to my laptop and desktop computer.

Apparently, placing your tablet, iPad or laptop on your lap is no solution for you are still holding the gadgets by your hand, using your fingers, and stretching your neck and back like an ostrich.

The last thing I want to do is carp about my carpal and replace my Samsung tablet with my doctor’s tablet.

So here’s what I plan to do: I’ll go back to reading my yellowed and dog-eared secondhand books. The current ratio is one physical book for four ebooks, which explains my stiff neck and fingers. I’ll try and reverse the order. That way I can keep the orthopaedic away and put off arthritis by a few more years.

But do I hear the ophthalmologist already knocking?

14 comments:

  1. I suffer with my head if I use my laptop and kindle too much so I've also started to read paper books more than before. Kindles are great for the amount of books they can hold but we do need to take care of ourselves don't we.

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    1. Rebecca, my tablet, which also supports the free Kindle app, has more than 200 books. No wonder it's weighing me down. I'm careful how I use it now.

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  2. Ouch. Sorry to hear this. I don't have much trouble this way with my kindle. I have a lot of problems with my wrists from repetitive typing and mouse use, though.

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    1. Charles, I have been told that Kindle is lighter on the hand and easier on the eyes than a tablet. Although, the Kindle app sitting on my tablet looks the same as a Kindle device.

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  3. I know how much you enjoy your tablet, Prashant. I did not realize this could happen from tablet use. What worries me is the overuse of phones... I use mine very little and it is barebones. I recently had a problem with my thumb which impacted just about everything I could do. It is amazing how much something like that affects all of your life.

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    1. Tracy, I hope your thumb feels better now. I think I have been enjoying my tablet more than is good for me! I'm scaling back on its use and trying to rediscover the pleasure of reading paper books.

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  4. Good luck chum - I have yet to take the e-reader / tablet plunge (but then do stare at a screen all day when not in meetings, so ...)

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    1. Sergio, thank you. E-reader can be addictive because of easy access to a lot of books in public domain not to mention Kindle editions of new and affordable books. I use a laptop and desktop PC too but there I take regular breaks, so I'm not constantly staring at the screen.

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  5. I get the tablet holding-typing-reading thing, but why the neck and back pain for the desktop computer? Sounds like you don't have it the correct distance and height (or chair too low). The screen should be ahead and slightly below your level line of sight, and you shouldn't have that problem. We have a laptop, but I sit it on a desk and use it there, I don't hold it in my lap, which I find uncomfortable (it slides about).

    Hope you get this solved. Meantime, there's nothing wrong with reading those hardcopy books!

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    1. Richard, my laptop and desktop computer are at the right height and distance, as is the distance between the screen and my chair. It's the tablet that's been causing niggling problems, really, which I attribute to its overuse. I'm not comfortable holding the laptop on my lap either.

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  6. I read more on tablet than before, but I get tired eyes. I think it comes from staring at a different type of screen from what I look at during work. Back to the paperbacks I think!

    You could get your wife to read to you whilst you recline on the sofa? I might suggest that to mine and see what she says!

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    1. Col, I have never had a problem with tired eyes or eye strain. It's just this occasional pain in the hands and stiffness in the fingers which I have realised is due to holding the tablet for long stretches of time. I'm going right back to paperbacks. My wife would be more than willing to read to me, I think!

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  7. Poor you! I don't read that much on my tablet, but use the Kindle a lot - but that has been fine. Good luck with finding a workround, even if that means old-fashioned books.

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    1. Moira, I can read Kindle books on my tablet although I'm reading more of them in ePub and pdf formats. I usually read at least one paper book while also reading from my tab. The good thing about reading "old-fashioned books" is that you can give them away and make space for new ones!

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