Ah, the pressures that come with being a parent. Am I feeding my children the right foods? Are they spending enough time outside? Am I teaching them the right values? It can be exhausting, but it's just a side effect that comes with loving our children and wanting what's best or them!
With TV, iPads, phones, computers and other digital devices being so immersed in our daily lives these days, a new question comes along for parents to ponder: should I set rules on screen time to protect my child's vision?
The answer is yes, when possible.
Blue Light and Screen Time:
You might have heard that exposure to harmful blue light, emitted from digital devices, can hurt our eyes.
This is because high-intensity blue light can damage and eventually kill the cells in our eyes' retina. The light reacts with certain molecules, knocking off bits of them and creating Reactive oxygen species (ROS) which can cause so much damage that cells will eventually destroy themselves in a process called apoptosis.
We know this to be true thanks to studies researchers have done with rats and human retinal cells grown in Petri dishes.
Eye problems caused by excessive screen time:
Some of the negative eye health experiences that come from prolonged exposure to harmful blue light technology are:
- Eye fatigue.
- Dry/Irritated Eyes.
- Unhealthy sleep schedule.
- Eye strain.
- Future complications such as Macular Degeneration.
- Eye Damage and Near-Sightedness.
- Cancer, Blood Pressure and Obesity.
Setting limits on screen time:
With the overwhelming research to support the harmful effects blue light technology can have on our children's eyes, it's clear that we as parents have to set some clear limits on screen time when possible.
If you're unsure where to start, The American Academy Of Pediatrics recommends the following guide:
- Babies under 18 months - No screen time
- 18-24 Months - If you choose to allow any, opt for educational programming only with a parent there to engage and help explain things
- Ages 2-5 - 1 hour of screen time per day
- Kids over 5 (including teenagers)- no more than 2 hours per day
What to do when screen time is a necessity:
Unfortunately, we cannot always control how much time a child needs to spend in front of a screen.
With COVID-19 forcing K-12 schools across the world to close and send students home, digital learning has become mainstream. In this instance, it's a positive thing that we are still able to support our children with e-learning despite the current climate.
In unavoidable cases like this, there are still many ways we can provide our children with protection from harmful blue light and negative screen time habits.
What we can do right now:
Regulating how our children's time is spent around screens can be a simple but very helpful step in protecting their young eyes and ensuring better eye health.
-Limit screen time to educational purposes only. This reinforces a positive relationship with screen time and can be beneficial to your child's mental health.
- Surround your child with the right lighting. Dr. Lite is the first to engineer a specially patented lamp that does not contain any of these harmful rays. Our premier line of lamps are designed to offer the most balanced spectrum of lighting which does not disturb your child's vision or health.
- Limit nighttime exposure. No screen time in the few hours leading up to sleep, no exceptions.
- Most devices these days come with “night mode” which cuts the blue light emissions automatically depending on the set time. Take advantage of this setting.
- As discussed in our previous articles, we can give our children's eyes a break by following the 20 by 20 rule: taking breaks from staring at their screen every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds.
- Make regular eye exams a part of your child’s healthcare schedule. You may be able to tell if your child’s eyes are tired, but it’s harder to tell if they are developing a vision problem.