Is your child hooked to the screen? 4 ways to limit effects of screen time 

Published on: 15 June 2022, 22:58 pm IST

From using it for both educational purposes and watching their favourite shows, kids these days are enjoying too much screen time.

screen time for children
Make sure your child's screen time is safe! Image courtesy; Shutterstock
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In today’s digital age, the usage of screens, be it for work or recreational purposes, has increased manifold. While adults are hooked to it, the kids are not far behind. The Covid-19 pandemic altered their life in such a way that dependence of screen increased more than usual, courtesy online classes and restriction on outdoor activities. Now summer vacations are on, and Covid-19 cases are rising again. So, here’s how you can limit your child’s screen time.

Excessive screen time has also caused a gap in communication between the children and parents, and it takes a lot of time to gradually reduce the duration. Most kids do not realize that it can cause eyestrain in the long run. The risk of permanent eye damage might not be there, but it can cause various problems like headaches, eye strain, dry eyes and so on.

Also, read: More screen time, more obesity: An expert warns you about the risks

tea and coffee for kids health risks
Excess screen time at a young age can impact vision. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How does constant screen time affect the eyes?

First and foremost, watching or reading on a digital screen can cause more strain on the eyes than reading a book or magazine. So, when a child is staring at computer screens or reading a book, she/he is concentrating on digital displays, which cause the eye blink rate to be lowered down by one-third to one-half. Eventually, it leads to eye dryness with ergonomics and surroundings playing an important role in adding strains on the eyes.

Ways to limit the effects of screen time

Post the pandemic, the entire world has turned almost all work into digital format and to say the least, it is here to stay. So, the only thing parents can do for their kids is to protect their eyes from too much screen time.

Here are four ways which can help in reducing the staying on eyes:

1. Eye blinking

One of the harmful effects of too much screen time is that it can make eyes irritated, dry, watery or even cause redness in the eyes during long stretches of screen use. Hence, when a child is concentrating more on a screen, make sure that she/he attempts to blink eyes more often in order to avoid the dryness of the eyes.

2. Ergonomics

Proper posture plays a vital role if your child is spending long hours on a digital screen. While working on a laptop, the screen should be 15-20 degrees below the eye level and around 30 centimetres away. In case of a desktop Desktop, the screen should be at the eye level and around 30-70 centimeters away. In this way, one can not only support the neck and back but it allows less surface area for tear film to evaporate from the eyes. Mobile usage is the worst for children as they end up bending their neck while looking at the screen.

3. Brightness and glare

Brightness in the surrounding area along with screen glare play an important role in inducing eye strain or headache. When the room is significantly brighter or dark, the eyes really have to work harder and get strained. Hence, it is suggested to adjust the lighting in the room so that it does not over the screen or eyes. Making sure to adjust the contrast on the screen also increases comfort during work on screen.

Meanwhile, glare from glass screens can be irritating to the eyes, hence, make sure that your child uses a matte screen filter, if she/he doesn’t have control over the lighting in the area.

technology and children
Limit your child’s screen time. Image courtesy: Unsplash

4. 20-20-20 rule

Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from a digital device and look at anything 20 feet away. As a reminder, one can set an alarm on the smartphone. This exercise relaxes all extra ocular muscles of the eye.

Also, the light produced by the phone and other screens (the blue light) may affect the body’s circadian rhythm/natural wake and sleep cycle. Hence, it is very important to stop working on the digital screen two hours before going to bedtime.

Last, but not least, make sure that you and your child get regular eye checkups done.

Dr Alpa Atul Poorabia Dr Alpa Atul Poorabia

Dr Alpa Atul Poorabia, M.S.(Ophth), FLVPEI (Cornea & Anterior Segment), D.O (Ophth), M.B.B.S, Senior Refractive, Cornea & Cataract Surgeon, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Kondapur, Hyderabad