With school being cancelled, kids are home all day, parents are juggling both a full-time job and taking care of their kids. The reality is that children will spend more time in front of the screen versus if they were in school all day. In the optometry world, we worry about excessive screen time because it correlates strongly with the onset and increase in myopia – the need for glasses to see in the distance. It’s a tough time for everyone, so we’ve gathered our best tips to help you manage screen time with kids.
1. Consider blue light filter glasses
We still don’t know enough about blue light filters to know the extent of which it can affect our eyes. However, we know that computer vision syndrome, due to increased screen time, can cause headaches, strain and eye aches. Reducing the brightness on the screen or wearing blue light filter glasses can assist with the strain. On our online store, we have non-prescription blue light filter glasses for kids! Check them out here.
2. Always take regular breaks from the screen.
Breaks are important for the hardest working muscles in our body. When screens are used, it causes our eyes to hold focus at a close distance. We want our kids to try and avoid prolonged usage of screens to relax the eyes from an up-close stimulus. Every 20 mins of screen time should include a 20-second break for the eyes. Every 2 hours of screen time should warrant at least 15 mins of screen-free time! Maybe add in a healthy raw veggie snack while they are on break to give those eyes extra nutrients! (We like carrots, orange peppers and leafy greens!)
3. Remind your kids to blink!
It’s hard not to be captivated by the addictive screen and you may notice your kids intensely staring at the screen. Encouraging your kids to blink allows the eyes to refresh the tears and lubricate the surface of the eyes. When we are on the screen, we blink half the amount than without the screen. To avoid complaints of burning, soreness and aching, make sure to keep your kiddos eyes blinking!
4. Keep a proper distance from the screen.
Does this sound familiar to you? You set down the tablet for your kids and walk away. When you turn around your kid’s nose is pressed up against the screen! It is important to maintain a distance of at least 30 cm from the tablet and 60 cm from a computer screen to reduce the strain on the focusing system of the eyes.
5. Make time for screen-free activities.
Although it was snowing last week, we promise spring is just around the corner! With nicer weather ahead, try to add in some outdoor time throughout the day. Ideally, at least 1 hour a day of outdoor time can help slow down the increase of myopia. If you are creating a routine make sure to add in a block of screen-free time every day. If your child is longing to use the screen, a simple tip is to offer the screen for a certain amount of time which comes along with double the amount of outdoor time before or after!
6. No screen-time before bed
Our hours may be shifted with our new routines but try to keep this rule for screentime. Turn off all devices 1-2 hours before bedtime so that your children’s circadian rhythms are not affected by the blue light emitted from the screen. It’s a good habit to adapt to not only your kids but you as well!
In the end, the only thing we can all do is try out best. All our situations are different, and we are all faced with unique challenges. Rest assured that if you have any concerns about your children’s eyes, we are here to help you along the way. Feel free to reach out to us if you are worried about the change in your child’s eyes. Together we can form a plan that will work best for you and your family. Take care and protect those eyes!