Given that our children are spending more and more time with screens (and often from an earlier age) many parents and health professionals are worried about the long-term and developmental impacts on children’s eye health.
So in this Podcast, I share five simple tips to minimize the potential harmful effects of excessive or inappropriate use of screens on young children.
Here’s a quick summary of the tips I shared in the video:
1. 20-20-20 Rule- This is the most important tip to implement, for both children and adults. Our children’s eyes can easily tire when they have to focus on screens. To reduce eye fatigue it’s important that children take frequent breaks away from screens. Encourage your child to take (at least) 20-second breaks away from the computer every 20 minutes and look at something at least 20 feet (approximately 6 metres) away. Encouraging your child to focus on something in the distance will minimize the development of eye-focusing problems and eye irritation.
2. Off-screen Time- It’s essential that children engage in plenty of screen-free time. This will ensure that eyes do not become too tired, or are exposed to lighting for prolonged periods of time. It will also give the eyes the opportunity to look at things in the distance (which we don;t do when staring at a screen).
3. Consider the Lighting Needs- When children used screens, the brightness should be a comparable brightness to the environment in which it’s being used. You also need to minimize glare so close blinds and window coverings and discourage your child from using devices directly under bright lights or when there’s competing external lights.
4. Consider Screen Ergonomics- We want children to position devices so that they’re not staring upward at light sources as this can place additional strain on the eyes (not to mention their necks).
5. Minimize Screen-Time- Children need lots of screen-free time to ensure that screen- use is not displacing their normal experiences that ensure healthy eye development. Parents and educators need to closely monitor how much time children are spending with screens to ensure that it’s not excessive.
I’d love to know in the comments below, what’s one strategy that you’re going to implement with your children this week, in terms of promoting healthy eyesight and development?