Recent research suggests increased time on digital devices has adversely affected children’s eye health and general well-being.
Children Increased Digital Device Usage During the Pandemic
According to a recent paper published in the Journal of School Health, global research studies conducted during the pandemic discovered children and teens significantly increased their screen time. This is not surprising, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of children to adjust to remote learning and depend on digital devices for their education.
Recreational screen time also increased during the pandemic. A study in JAMA Pediatrics found 12- to 13-year-old children in the United States increased their non-scholastic screen time from 3.8 hours per day to 7.7 hours a day.
Digital Eye Strain and Health Risks
Staring at screens can lead to many types of eye problems. For example, too much time on electronic devices puts children at risk for digital eye strain, characterized by itchy, red, watery eyes that can feel irritated and uncomfortable. Staring at screens can also increase the likelihood of dry eye, uncorrected refractive errors and unstable binocular vision.
Using digital devices can also have long-term health consequences. Because it is a passive activity, excessive screen time can cause overeating and even obesity. Studies also show depression and anxiety increase with more screen time, and students’ coping skills decrease. It can also result in physical discomforts like shoulder, neck and back pain.
Using Self-control With Digital Devices
Digital devices are a helpful tool when used in moderation. Remote learning provided essential education to millions of students during the pandemic, and it continues to be an important option for students.
“Schools can make sure time spent on digital devices is maximized for learning and less digital time is encouraged for other activities,” said lead author Professor Shahina Pardhan, director of the Vision and Eye Research Institute at Anglia Ruskin University. “Governments should work with schools to help shape home-based learning guidelines that encourage creative learning away from devices, including promoting other types of activities and frequent screen breaks” (Medical Xpress).
Tips to Prevent Digital Eye Strain
As parents become more aware of how many hours their children spend on digital devices at school, they can help their children establish screen time limits at home. Here are some helpful guidelines for creating healthy boundaries for your family’s digital device usage:
- Teach kids the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something at least 20 feet away.
- Limit kids’ video games, online games and TV to weekends.
- Remind kids that the time they spend on digital devices at school counts toward their daily screen time limits.
- Talk to your family ophthalmologist about how digital devices can impact their vision.
Schedule Comprehensive Eye Exams for the Family
When was the last time you scheduled a comprehensive eye exam with dilation for your family members? Annual eye exams provide more than just a check-up on your eyesight. They offer a window into your overall health. Call today to make an appointment for a complete eye examination so you can enjoy clear vision for years to come.