Using Laptops on Your Lap - What are the Health Risks?

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Like mobile phones, laptops have become an extension of many people’s life, with so many of us spending the majority of our waking hours in front of one. The portability of laptops has made work so much easier. You can work practically anywhere, from the comfort of your bed to the beach or even while you’re traveling. But as much as laptops offer a great deal of flexibility in terms of use, there are a few certain limits to this flexibility that you must observe to protect your health and overall wellbeing. One of the simplest, and one that most people find difficult to agree on, is the use of the lap as ‘table’ for the laptop.

laptop on lap

Is It Bad to Put Your Laptop on Your Lap?

This is common practice. After all, the name itself suggests that it’s a device for lap use. However, the name can actually be deceiving. It has been proven that putting the laptop directly on your lap while in use is actually harmful. Read on to find out the risks.

Health Risks in Using Your Lap for Your Laptop

The risks posed by this habit can range from immediate to long-term, from temporary to permanent.


Laptops emit a great deal amount of heat. And while the heat isn’t strong enough to cause a dangerous burn, prolonged exposure can still burn the skin, a condition known as Erythema ab Igne (EAI), or more commonly known as the toasted skin syndrome. This condition occurs in the form of mottling or rash in the skin. And while this is often temporary, prolonged continuous exposure can result in permanent skin discoloration, or worse.

Some more serious cases of toasted skin syndrome may be a symptom of cancer, especially if they won’t disappear even after non-exposure to the heat source. The best way to deal with this is to avoid anything that may cause the condition, laptops included, and to consult a doctor if you notice anything abnormal in your skin.

man using a laptop


With the onset of technology, radiation has also become a regular part of everyday life. People deal with radiation every single day, from phones to laptops and computers.

While controlled use is the key to ensuring that you keep radiation levels safe, placing a laptop on your lap actually increases your body’s exposure to EMF radiation, which is produced both from the electronic operation of the device and from its wireless communication capability.

There have been studies linking radiation to fertility, especially among men. One study shows the negative effect of radiation to sperm motility, while another study indicates that prolonged exposure to laptop radiation actually kills sperm cells.

Women are not as at risk as men in terms of fertility, but laptop radiation is also proven harmful to pregnant women. In principle, any heat applied to a baby in the uterus is harmful – more to the baby than to the mother.

Apart from all these, exposure to radiation can also cause several smaller but constant health issues such as fatigue, persistent headaches, dizziness, as well as chronic colds and flus. These may seem harmless conditions, but they can take a toll on your health especially if they’re chronic and constant.

Posture Problems

Laptops and computers must be ideally placed at eye level so that you can keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed while using them. Placing a laptop lower on your lap will force you to hunch over the laptop, disrupting your natural posture. This can result in back pain, as well as strain on the shoulders and neck.

Development of More Unhealthy Habits

Lastly, the habit of placing a laptop on your lap makes it easy to take the laptop to your bed and spend the hour before you sleep browsing and working (much like you do with your phones), and thus making it more difficult to sleep.

In the same manner, having the comfort of working on the bed or the couch with the laptop on your lap can have an effect on concentration. This habit can be counterproductive and can make it harder to focus on getting things done.

laptop in bed

Who are at Risk?

Radiation affects everyone who is exposed to electronic devices, but those who work on their laptop and computer for longer periods of time are especially vulnerable. The risk is especially higher for those who have the habit of placing the laptop on their lap while they work, study, or watch movies.

What are the Alternatives?

Breaking the habit of using your lap for a laptop table is easy. The quick answer is to just don’t – but what do you do instead?

Use a Laptop Pad

This is the easiest solution if you really do find the need to place the laptop on your lap, especially if you need to work while on the go – when traveling or when at the airport, for instance. There are high quality laptop pads designed not only to provide a layer of protection between the laptop and your lap but also to deflect radiation.

Avoid Using the Laptop While Plugged

While this is not a permanent solution, this is one way to minimize the amount of radiation being emitted by your laptop while it’s in use. There is additional radiation produced when the laptop is charging, and you are exposing yourself to most of that radiation when you use the laptop while it’s plugged. Therefore, it’s advised to keep your laptop unplugged while you’re using it.

Invest in a Standing Desk

If there’s one real solution to the problem, it’s this – to use an ergonomic desk for your laptop instead of your lap. A proper desk will protect your lap (and vital organs) from heat, minimize radiation as it keeps you at the right distance from the device, and keep your posture correct.

Standing Desk

There are several desk options available in the market, some of them specifically designed to promote a healthier work lifestyle. The MotionGrey adjustable desk is crafted not only to provide a proper place for your laptop and computer but also to help you maintain optimum comfort and a correct posture while you work. Its height is adjustable, so it’s easy to work seating or standing – no risks, just a healthy work habit.

Comfortable is not always safe and healthy, and some comfortable habits like placing a laptop on your lap can have long-term consequences that may not be apparent at the moment. If you’re someone who has this habit, it’s time to start thinking about breaking it and protecting yourself from possible health injury or condition. We hope the tips above can help you find healthier alternatives.

About Us

MotionGrey is a Canadian standing desk company that specializes in ergonomic furniture. We supply and install only the best quality standing desks and ergonomic chairs in the country.

Our products are designed with wellness as the focal point. From our electric standing desks to our office and gaming chairs, we deliver best value by putting your health, safety, and comfort as top priority. Boost your creativity and level up work performance. We want you to create great outcomes so we’re providing you only the best tools to make them possible.
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