Is over-exposure to screens affecting my child's mental and physical wellbeing?
The short answer is yes, it could be. Too much time behind screens can result in an over-exposure to the blue light emitted from screens (TVs, laptops, mobile phones etc) which can have an effect on both your child's mental and physical wellbeing.
According to BBC "Optometrists across the country say they are diagnosing higher numbers of children with short-sightedness (myopia) since the start of the pandemic.
They put this down to less time spent outside due to Covid restrictions, more time spent on screens, and a drop-off in numbers of eye tests carried out during the pandemic."
The alarming fact is that in the UK, children are spending up to 6,5 hours a day behind screens. And even lesser amounts of screen time could still have an affect on children under the age of 15 whose eyes are still developing and are more sensitive to blue light.
What are the negative effects of blue light over-exposure?
Over-exposure to the artificial blue light emitted from screens can result in the following negative effects for your children:
- Potential increased risk of long term eye damage
- Mental and physical fatigue
- Poor concentration and low energy
- Sore, tired and dry eyes
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Poor sleep quality
- Decreased learning ability due to fatigue and poor sleep
- Bad posture
Concerned that your child may be experiencing negative symptoms from blue light? Here's what you can do about it!
Here are our Top 7 tips to protect your children's eyes:
1. Balance indoor and outdoor playtime
Encourage your children to play outdoors. About two hours of outdoor play per day is recommended. Natural blue light from the sun during the day time is good for regulating sleep cycles and resetting your children's body clock.
2. Protect your children's eyes with screen glasses
Block out the blue light from screens with junior blue light computer / screen glasses like the ClipIT junior screen glasses. Blue light glasses have special lenses designed to block out the blue light emitted from screens and protect your children's eyes from over-exposure. Get 20% OFF all kids screen glasses [LIMITED TIME OFFER - Automatic at checkout]
3. Turn off digital devices before bed
Turn off all digital devices at least an hour before bed. Studies have shown that children are more sensitive to the melatonin (the sleep hormone) suppressing affect of blue light. This means that the same amount of blue light exposure in the evenings will affect children's sleep more than adults. Switching off digital devices in the evening allows melatonin production and your child's natural sleep-cycle to be regulated.
4. Use night settings on your devices
If your children are using devices in the evening be sure to turn on the night settings. Night settings help reduce the amount of blue light that is emitted from screens. Our favourite app to use to reduce blue light is f.lux. In addition, many devices will have night modes built in to their settings.
5. Take breaks with the 20/20/20 rule
Be sure your children are taking breaks during screen time usage. You can use the 20/20/20 rule as a guide. Every 20 minutes encourage your child to take their eyes off the screen and look at something that is 20 feet or more away for at least 20 seconds.
6. Limit screen time the SMART way
Make use of apps that limit screen time for your child. Screen time apps allow parents to control and manage their child's screen time remotely. You can set daily limits for each child and even allocate more time for educational resources. An app you can look into is ScreenLimit, and there are many options in the app store.
7. Consult a professional
It is recommended to take your children for a routine checkup every 2 years to have a professional eye examination.