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7 Ways Parents Can Limit Screen Time For Kids

​​​​​​​​Children are spending more time than ever before staring at digital screens, including computers, tablets, televisions, cellphones, and other devices. All that screen time can have an impact on children's health, particularly how their eyes feel.

According to research, toddlers as early as 6 months old begin zooming in on digital media devices such as their parents' tablets or smartphones.


Studies have found, by their teens, children spend roughly 7 hours per day consuming screens media, such as watching TV, playing electronic games, and accessing social media. Children, especially if they're having a good time, may play and watch until they're exhausted.


Time spent watching devices while in class or doing assignments is not included in this.


Why screen breaks are important

Staring at a screen for prolonged periods of time without taking breaks might result in symptoms such as:


Eye fatigue


Muscles around the eyes, like any other, can become weary with repeated use. Looking on a monitor for extended periods of time can induce concentration problems as well as headaches around the temples and eyes. Children may also utilize screen devices in places with poor illumination, creating squinting fatigue.


Blurry vision


Gazing at a constant distance for a lengthy period of time can cause the focusing system of the eye to spasm or briefly "lock up." When a child glances away from the screen, his or her vision blurs due to a condition known as accommodation spasm. Some research also suggests that computer use and other similar indoor activities may contribute to increased incidence of myopia (nearsightedness) in youngsters, however this has yet to be verified. More time spent playing outside may lead to better visual development in children.


Dry eyes


According to studies, people blink substantially less frequently when focusing on a computer screen, which might cause dry and irritated eyes. Laptop and desktop computer use can be more demanding on children's eyes because they are typically located higher up in the visual field than, say, a book. As a consequence, the upper eyelids tend to open wider, hastening the evaporation of the tear film in the eye.


What parents can do


Monitor screen time


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) household media use plan and related reports address issues ranging from obesity to sleep issues associated with excessive screen usage. Although it is understandable that children's screen time will grow since the COVID-19 pandemic, the AAP recommends parents to do their best to maintain a balance between the virtual and physical worlds. Two critical parts of this are ensuring that screens do not cut into:

Sleep

Sleep deprivation results in fatigued, painful eyes. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises children not to sleep with electronics in their bedrooms, such as televisions, computers, and cellphones. Furthermore, the AAP recommends eliminating screen time for 1 hour before bedtime. Using electronics after night, particularly for violent video games or programs, might disrupt sleep. According to studies, the blue light emitted by screens may also make it harder to sleep.

Exercise

Take frequent breaks


Children are usually so engrossed in their activities that they fail to notice symptoms of eye fatigue. Encourage them to take break times. The 20/20/20 rule is recommended by the American Optometric Association: glance away from the monitor every 20 minutes and focus on an object at minimum 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Furthermore, youngsters should take a 10-minute break from their screens every hour. A simple timer can assist your child remember, and software solutions that turn off the screen at regular intervals can also help.


Remember to blink


According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, gazing at a computer can reduce blink rates by 50% and create dry eyes. Encourage your youngster to blink more frequently, especially when taking pauses. If your child's dry eyes persist, your pediatrician or eye doctor may offer hydrating eye drops or a room humidifier.


Screen positioning


Make sure your children's notebook or desktop screen is just below eye level. Looking up at a screen makes your eyes bigger and dries them out faster. Some experts recommend setting device screens according to the 1/2/10 guideline: cellphones ideally at one foot, desktop computers and laptops at two feet, and TV screens at around ten feet (depending on the screen's size). Increasing the text size—particularly on smaller screens—to double the size that your kids can comfortably see may also help prevent eye fatigue.


Spotlight on lighting


Consider the lighting in a room when using a computer or other display to reduce glare and eye fatigue. It should ideally be around half of the amount needed for other tasks, such as writing or crafting. Position monitors such that light from uncovered windows, lights, and overhead light fixtures does not shine directly on the screens. Reduce the screen brightness to a more comfortable viewing level. Some optometrists suggest computer glasses with orange lenses, which may also help with glare reduction. Children who use prescription glasses may also have an anti-reflective coat applied. Monitor hoods or blinds that connect to the screen are another option.


Get regular vision screenings


If your child has hazy vision or other eye problems, he or she may not express that. That is why it is critical to have frequent vision screenings. The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Pediatrics both suggest that children have their eyes evaluated by a pediatrician starting at birth. If a problem is discovered during one of these regular eye exams, your physician may recommend you to a pediatric ophthalmologist for further evaluation.


​Does my child need blue-light filtering glasses?


You've probably heard of special glasses that aid filter blue light emitted by computers and other devices. Many parents ask if these eyeglasses should be on their children's back-to-school supplies list, especially with more online studying during the semester. While there is no evidence that blue light is detrimental to the eyes, it can make children's sleep more difficult and add to eye strain. However, shutting off screens an hour before bed, following the 20/20/20 rule, and following the other steps above can help avoid this—no purchase required!


Remember


Children, particularly younger ones, will almost certainly require assistance and reminders to use digital screen gadgets in an eye-friendly manner.


Consult your pediatrician if you have any queries about keeping your children's eyes and eyesight healthy.

 

Disclaimer


This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. CandorVision disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.


The information contained on this website does not establish, nor does it imply, a doctor-patient relationship. CandorVision does not offer this information for diagnostic purposes. A diagnosis must not be assumed based on the information provided.


 

References


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