Rebecca is a bubbly freelance journalist who writes about tech, health and lifestyle.
Summer is finally here which can only mean one thing. It’s time to prepare for six weeks of no school, no sleep and certainly no free time. As our little ones become excited for their annual season of procrastinating on their summer projects, sinking into their favourite summer activities and enjoying those extra few hours in bed, they only have one thing on their mind. Their phone.
Studies have shown that just over 85% of children across the world currently own a smartphone. Within that number, nearly half of users are under the age of 13. As the summer holidays become a break from the classroom but not from the screen, it’s no wonder that parents are worried about the effects of long term screen time on both their children’s physical and mental health.
As our little ones continue to engross themselves within their favourite apps and social media platforms, read on to find out the dangers of too much screen time and what you can do to reduce the effects of digital eye strain this summer.
What Is Digital Eye Strain?
Digital eye strain is a common technology-related condition that occurs when someone has been looking at a screen for an extended period of time. Not a condition in itself but rather an umbrella term for symptoms related to too much screen use, digital eye strain is known to affect many people in the younger generation, especially those of us who spend a large amount of time on our smartphones.
Symptoms of digital eye strain can include a number of conditions ranging from minor ailments such as dry eyes and screen-related headaches to much more permanent symptoms such as blurred vision or near and farsightedness, which are often treated with glasses and/or surgery.
In fact, studies suggest that children who use technology for long periods of time without regular screen breaks are twice as likely to require glasses in older age.
What Are the Causes?
Aside from remaining at a screen for a long period of time, there are also other factors that may contribute to the development of digital eye strain, such as:
- Your Distance From The Screen: Those of us who are too close to the screen are more likely to be affected by the power of the radiating blue light which can cause eye fatigue and screen-related headaches.
- Poor Room Lighting: If your little one is known for sneaking their phone into bed at night, they could be at risk for ongoing digital eye strain. When viewing a screen in a dark environment, our eyes are flooded with too much light, putting users at risk of developing future vision problems.
- Bad Posture: For those of us who are sat at a computer screen, such as remote workers or avid gamers this summer, ergonomic welfare can also be a contributing factor to screen strain. Remaining hunched over in one position for long periods of time are more likely to suffer from not only screen-related eye strain but also back and neck issues too.
How to Protect From Eyestrain: 3 Ways
For the parents dreading the screen time battle this summer, fear not. We have some tips for you on how to keep your child occupied, while still reducing screen time, for an eye strain free holiday.
Read on to find out our top tips on how to protect your little one from the causes of digital eye strain while introducing them to new activities that don’t require a smartphone or a social media platform.
1. Regular Screen Breaks
This one may seem obvious, but introducing regular screen breaks and phone time schedules is the way forward if you want to create a healthy balance between the smartphone and reality. For younger children especially, using a smartphone reward system could be a step in the right direction.
Encourage your children to get outside, help out with the house and complete their summer projects for screen time in return. Giving your child something to work towards is a great way to reduce screen time while encouraging them to be proactive this summer.
2. Get Creative With Communication
Why not also get creative with communication. With most children now learning to communicate over their favourite social media messenger, old forms of communication such as phone calls and letter writing seem to have been forgotten.
Why not teach your little ones how to write a letter to their best friend and start a pen pal trend across your city this summer. For early developers, this increases cognitive skills, while also posing as a creative no-screen communicating method. Better still, see how excited they get when a letter arrives through the door with their name on it.
3. Block Out That Blue Light
For teens and avid gamers who tend to spend more time on their phones and computer, it might be time to work on blocking out that blue light with screen aids such as blue light glasses, reflective screen covers and ergonomic working aids such as a back supporting chair or a tall standing desk.
Screen aids are a great way to remain healthy while still enduring long periods of screen time. Better still, these can be taken into school post-summer to aid screen dominant classes and even interactive whiteboard work. Reducing your blue light exposure prevents screen related headaches and eye fatigue making it easy to work for longer and remain productive.