screen time

Is too much screen time bad for kids?

You go into your child’s room and they are playing the latest gaming app, you look in your review mirror and your child is watching YouTube, you check if your child needs help with their homework and they are busy texting friends.

Children and their phones are inseparable in today’s society, and all that reading and playing games on their handheld devices can harm their vision.

To reduce screen time, some parents ban phones at dinner time, cap screen time to certain days or limit screen time to a certain amount of time per day. 

These days’ children under just 2 years old are spending an average of 42-minutes per day using digital devices. As kids grow, their screen time tends to grow with them.

The problem with too much screen time:

Children who are exposed to more than two hours of screen time per day can experience:

  • Headaches
  • Neck/shoulder pain
  • Poor posture
  • Eye strain, dry or irritated eyes
  • Reduced attention span
  • Poor behaviour
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances

These symptoms affect academic performance and social interactions.

The rapid rise of myopia, or nearsightedness, worldwide has been linked to increased use of and exposure to electronic devices.

What you can do:

  • Encourage your child, if needed, to wear eyeglasses with lenses that reduce the amount of blue light that enters the eyes from digital screens or polarized sunglasses.
  • Purchase a protective blue light filter that can be applied to the surface of your child’s digital device. Examples include InvisibleShield Glass + VisionGuard screen protectors from ZAGG.
  • Use the blue light filtering features on certain devices (like Apple’s Night Shift), or multi-platform apps that block blue light, such as f.lux and Iris.
  • To reduce sleep disruptions, create a “no-screens” rule at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Encourage frequent visual breaks with the “20-20-20” I spy game. Every 20 minutes, encourage them to take their eyes off the screen, look at something that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds and guess what they spy for 20 seconds. This simple game relaxes the focusing and eye alignment muscles, reducing the risk of many of the symptoms of digital eye strain.
  • Encourage frequent posture checks. The time taken to follow the 20-20-20 rule is also a good time to encourage your child to sit up straight and realign the head, neck and shoulders. Moving the head slowly to the right and left and also up and down can relieve strained muscles and reduce fatigue. Encourage to walk and stretch the entire body also is a good idea to reduce the risk of non-visual symptoms of computer vision syndrome.
  • Set a time limit on your child’s phone use. Apple, Google and other tech companies have recently introduced time management features and apps that allow you to monitor your child’s daily screen time. Visit your phone vendor’s website or store to learn more.
  • Schedule annual eye exams with an eye doctor to monitor your child’s vision and eye health. Ask your eye doctor about blue light protection options.

Children and technology are the future. Taking these simple measures can go a long way towards keeping your tech-savvy children seeing clearly and comfortably for years to come.

To find our more information about our services here at FOCUS, give our friendly team a call today on: (02) 9663 3927

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