The advancement of home technology and entertainment over the last decade means that we are spending more time using digital screens than ever before. This is especially true for kids, many of whom now own some sort of tablet or smart phone device, packed with an endless stream of TV shows, films, games and books.
And at the same time, there’s an increasing amount of evidence suggesting that this could be having a negative effect on our eyes. For our children, whose eyes are still developing, there’s an increased concern. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some practices parents can encourage in their children and build into habit.
Unconsciously, one does not blink as much as one usually would when staring at a screen, so the eyes aren’t receiving the natural moisture they need to stay hydrated.
The most common eye-related issue that occurs from extensive digital screen use is dry eye. This short-term problem can be painful and highly uncomfortable, presenting an increased risk of infection and irritation.
The way around this is for children to practice regular blinking during screen use. Looking away from the screen every now and again and taking some short visual breaks is another way to make sure they’re blinking at a natural rate.
The 20-20-20 rule is very easy to remember, making it a great way for your child to keep their eyes safe during screen use. The rule goes that whenever they’re looking at the screen, every twenty minutes they should take a break for twenty seconds and look at something twenty feet away.
This will give their eyes time to refresh and blink naturally, moisturising their eyes properly and reducing the risk of dry eye.
Screen brightness and glare
In darker lighting, a bright, glaring screen can be harsh on eyes. Show your child how to adjust the brightness levels of the screen and encourage them to set it on the lowest setting possible, while still being able to see without constantly exposing their eyes to a strong glare.
In addition, you might want to invest in an anti-glare screen for the computer monitor in your house. These are very affordable and can go a long way to reducing the intensity of the computer brightness on your child’s eyes.
Make time for other activities
One way to drastically reduce the effects that digital screens have on your children and their eyes is to encourage them to get involved with other activities. Sports and outdoor play aren’t just good for the exercise they provide, they’re also linked with improving your child’s cognitive skills and hand-eye coordination.
Try to get your child active in a sport or activity that gets them plenty of fresh air and helps with developing and maintaining their visual acuity.
Get plenty of sleep
As with the rest of the body, eyes need time to relax and rest, especially after an extended amount of time watching TV or other digital screens. Children in particular also need sleep for their overall development. Encourage an early night and at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
If followed properly, these steps can go a long way to keeping your children’s eyes safe from the negative effects that digital screen use can have. Bearing all this in mind, it’s also a smart idea to limit the time your children spends on screens to a reasonable amount.
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