Increase In Screen Time Can Affect Your Kids' Eyes
As much as spending time online could be a welcome relief, increased screen time is also an indisputably potent factor behind physical strain to the eyes.
Whilst coping with an overwhelming pandemic, people are battling with physical and mental health issues that have arisen during this period. Consequently, this has made them turn to digital avenues. For not just information sharing, learning but also for distraction. As much as spending time online could be a welcome relief, increased screen time is also an indisputably potent factor behind physical strain to the eyes.
This phenomenon is more fragile in the case of children. A review of 25 years of research by Department of Health Management and Policy at University of Michigan found that working up close – like reading or using a tablet – increased the odds of myopia.A nationwide study in Taiwan found that after-school study programs with lots of closeup work were associated with an increased likelihood of nearsightedness among children aged 7 to 12.
Health Problems Due to Increase Screen Time
With the dilution of line between ‘work’ and ‘play’ for children, they are experiencing strain to their eyes, resulting in eye pain, dry eyes, vision problems and headache. Some are also experiencing fatigue and neck pains due to perpetual exposure to the screen. While this vulnerability is inevitable, parents can always manage the time that their children spend watching and reading.
Long stretches of screen exposure are more harmful than short spans spent accessing information on phones/laptops. Hence, this fragmentation of time is of utmost consideration in the process of managing screen time.
The pandemic has also caused disruptions in the sleep cycle of children, now that their new normal routine is relatively more restrictive than before. As a result, they have been accessing gadgets at night, causing further strain to their eyes.
This can be managed through a proper sleep schedule in which children devote an extra hour to sleep. This can be proven effective in ensuring that they get to relax their eye muscles and get rid of fatigue.
While physical activity is proven to be beneficial for a healthy and active lifestyle, eye, face and neck exercises can especially aid in reducing pains and fatigue. Washing one’s face at regular intervals can also ensure that the eyes aren’t fatigued.
A healthy, nutritious diet, rich in vitamins will provide the nutrients needed for ensuring good eye health, especially for children whose bodies are much more capable and receptive to absorbing these nutrients. Consuming green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and juices and dry fruits like almonds and raisins can do the needful.
Tips to Ensure Eye Health and Reduce Screen Time
Few simple tips to ensure eye health and reduce screen time are also to.
- Take a 20-second break from closeup work every 20 minutes.
- Set a timer to remind kids to take those breaks.
- Keep digital media 18 to 24 inches away from the face.
- Blink adequately when working on screens.
The World Health Organization recommends that children under 5 spend one hour or less per day on digital devices, and children under 1 spend no time on digital devices. The Children’s Eye Foundation recommends daily outdoor play, no screen time for those under age 2, a maximum of 1-2 hours per day for kids ages 2 to 5 and guided screen time with frequent breaks for kids over 5.
Taking good care of physical and mental health is a salient aspect of combating the irrefutable presence of a pandemic in our lives. By taking small steps towards their well-being, children can prevent bigger problems that loom large in the pretext of a world emergency like the Coronavirus pandemic.
The article is written by Dr. Nikhil Sardar, Senior Consultant, Ophthalmology, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital.