Digital screens are all around us these days. From learning apps to television shows to video games, kids more than ever are spending their free time in front of a screen.
More than ever, we need to worry about risks like computer vision syndrome.
In this article, we will look at 4 such risks, and discuss how we can help our children prevent digital eye strain.
4 Risks Associated with Too Much Screen Time
1. Dry Eyes
Long hours of screen time causes dry eyes. The eyes get dry and irritated as you would blink less often when staring at a digital screen. When you blink less, there won’t be a clear tear film on the surface of the eye which is necessary for clear vision. This condition can get worse for children who look up at a screen that is positioned for adults.
2. Computer Vision Syndrome
Also known as digital eye strain, computer vision syndrome is a condition caused by visual stress due to extended screen time. You can experience eye discomfort when viewing digital screens for long periods of time. The level of discomfort may increase with the amount of digital screen use.
Symptoms include dry eyes, fluctuating vision, fatigue, and headache. Non-visual symptoms include neck and shoulder pain.
3. Unhealthy Posture
If your kids use a digital device for long, they can end up slouching inwards and rounding the back and shoulders. Their head may tilt back and chin may jut forward. This is an unhealthy posture which leads to non-visual symptoms of digital strain.
Increased screen time may also increase the risk of development and progression of nearsightedness or myopia. This is a condition where your kid can see objects near to them clearly, but objects farther away are blurry.
You can use screen protectors for eye protection. This will prevent their eyes from getting strained.
4 Practical Tips to Reduce Digital Eye Strain
1. Ensure Proper Lighting
Excessively bright or low light can cause immense strain on the eyes. Don’t let them sit directly under fluorescent lights when they are on their screens. Reduce exterior lights by closing the blinds. You can use bulbs of lower intensity to reduce interior lighting.
2. Apply 20-20-20 Rule
Encourage your kids to take regular breaks from the screen. Ask them to move around a bit and stretch to reduce tension in the back, neck, and shoulders.
The 20-20-20 rule is to look at an object that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. This will help in protecting your eyes.
3. Ensure the Screens are at Proper Distance
Ensure the kids don’t sit too close to the computer or TV screen or tilt the head up to watch it. They must sit at some distance from the screen and the devices should be at eye level. The phones and tablets should be below the eye level and as far as possible yet at a readable distance.
4. Blink Frequently
Generally, kids tend to blink less when they are staring at a screen. This will cause the eyes to dry up. Encourage them to blink frequently as it will remoisten the surface of their eyes and avoid dry eye symptoms.
Tips to Keep Kids Away from Screen
It may seem difficult to peel the kids from the screens but there are several “non-screen” activities that can keep them entertained. They will enjoy the following activities and it can keep them busy for hours, thus reducing screen time.
- Make them learn new things like a new language.
- Paint with bubbles or teach them new craft activities. This is great for young children.
- Give them puzzles to solve which won’t just entertain them but also sharpen their mind.
- Get them involved in household activities like cleaning the room with you, raking the leaves in the garden, sorting the laundry, etc.
- Read books with them.
- Hit the outdoors for some fresh air or play with water balloons.
- Play games with them that will improve their vocabulary or math skills.
- Host family game nights where all of you can play fun board games.
Reduce the screen time for kids as much as possible. Establishing media-free times will also go a long way. These measures will ensure that your tech-savvy kids are not hurting their eyes.
Aaron Barriga is the online marketing manager for Insight Vision Center. With a knack for understanding medical procedures and an interest in eye and vision health, Aaron loves to share what he knows and what he learns. He blogs with a mission of informing readers about the latest eye care technology and other topics related to eye care and eye health. He loves collecting coasters from the different bars and restaurants he visits during his travels.