Digital Eyestrain – How Bad It Is For Kids And Ways To Prevent It!
It could be rightly said that screen time is an inescapable reality of modern childhood. Today’s kids are even smarter than ever before as they grow with technology at their fingertips. Educational apps and TV shows allows kids to engage and develop their minds in fun ways. But tread carefully. Tech-savvy kids who spend long hours playing games, watching television to browsing the internet could be hurting their eyes. Yes, eyestrain is tough on the developing eyes. It’s time they take a break from the screen.
How do children damage their eyes with too much screen time? Well, when children spend hours in front of a TV, computer or hand-held device their eye muscles have to focus and work hard to keep the text or pictures on the screen clear. This can be detrimental to young eyes. Too much screen time can result in digital eyestrain, which can include burning, itchy, or tired eyes, headaches, blurred or double vision and even loss of focus.
The following are the risks of excessive screen time:
· Incessant exposure to the blue light is very hazardous and can cause irreversible damage to their eyesight. Surveys have pointed out that the blue light can cause irritation and even put them at the risk of retinal damage. Besides this the blue light can suppress the secretion of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making kids difficult to fall asleep.
· Childhood myopia has doubled because of the increased amount of time spent looking at things up close and also due to lack of outdoor activities. Focusing on things closer to the eyes for longer periods of time puts excessive strain on the eyes and tends to accelerate the progression of myopia.
· Excessive screen time parches your kid’s peepers. The blink rate slows down during screen use. When kids focus on something very close to their eyes with intent, there is reduced blinking. When they’re staring at the screens without blinking enough, tears evaporate very quickly, resulting in dry eyes.
Is your child slouching on the couch, head down and eyes zeroed on some electronic gadget? Encourage your kids to do the following:
· For kids above the age of two, limit the time spent in front of the screen by not more than two hours a day. Say no to screen time for kids under two years.
· Create a bedtime for all digital devices. Too much screen time can wreck your child’s sleep cycles. So make it a practice for kids to turn off all devices an hour before going to bed and put them in the designated charging spots.
· Teach your kids the 20-20-20 rule. – every twenty minutes stop looking at the screen and take twenty seconds to look at something that is 20 feet away in the room.
· Staring at these mesmerising digital devices reduces the blink rate. Remind your kids to blink as often as possible to help keep their eyes moist.
· Increase the text size and adjust the brightness to reduce eyestrain. Consider adding a blue light filter to computers, smart phones and tablets to help absorb some blue light.
· Teach your kids the importance of positioning. Make sure they keep all handheld devices at a comfortable distance from their eyes and a little below their eye level.
· Last but not the least, schedule regular eye exams. This ensures that your child has the best vision while using these digital devices.
Moderation is the key to everything, so feel confident in setting healthy boundaries. Teach them the importance of the three B’s approach – blink, breathe and break to prevent digital eyestrain. Blinking often moistens and refreshes their eyes. Correct breathing techniques relaxes their eye muscles. Lastly make sure they take frequent screen breaks!