Uncertainty, fear, negativity, and more caged at home to contain the spread of CoronaVirus has made it tough for the parents as well as the kids to keep a sense of calm. Parents everywhere around the globe are struggling to keep their kids active and right pathed in this pandemic.
With most of the countries under strict lockdown, all the public places are closed including schools, offices, gardens, etc. And with school switching to online mode, lots of parents are worried about their kids.
Though the cause of worry is not online mode, it has proven to be more efficient than offline studies. But the continuous staring of their kids on the laptop/mobile screens for two-three hours straight. And yes their demands of using mobiles after classes are proving to be a topic of concern for the parents. Let’s discuss the topic by looking at the different aspects of it.
Why as a Parent You Must be Concerned?
Yes, after the pandemic gets over, schools will reopen but e-learning approaches will remain as an important backup strategy for blended learning and new closures. Digital innovation has many positives for future education. Though there is a concern among opthalmologist about the significant increase in screen time of kids and decrease in the outdoor activities. This may further start a myopia epidemic.
The long hours children spend on computers and smartphones for online classes are beginning to bother parents as frequent headaches and eye problems are surfacing.
Time spent on screens not just for studies but for other activities as well is increasing. With more exposure to lots of other social platforms, children are seen glued to the screen for hours together. And this may lead them in trouble shortly.
Chee Wai Wong, MD, and Co-author wrote in a review paper published in American Journal Of Opthalmology, “There is a possibility that a prolonged battle against COVID-19 VIRUS may lead to an increase in the incidence of myopia by shaping long term behavioral changes conducive for the onset and progression of myopia”.
Symptoms Seen in Children Due to long Screen Time
Following are the Symptoms that your kid frequently complains about and if he doesn’t then you must have seen some weird changes in him/ her leaving you baffled.
Decreased Blinking Rate
The constant stare at the computer or mobile screen affects the blinking rate, which in turn leads to dry eye.
kids might not tell you this at first, but then they start blinking instantly after screen use and rub their eyes roughly. This because while reading a book you turn pages, move the book around. Thus focusing is more variable. On the other hand, screens are kept at a fixed position and your eyes are fixed on them causing eye discomfort and muscle pain.
Discomfort while reading
As a parent/guardian you may notice that the child may face problems while reading or writing. He/she may face problems focusing and may end up looking confused or rubbing their eyes frequently.
Kids may end up red-eyed most of the time. As the focus on the screens at a fixed location at a particular, non-adjustable position for long hours puts a strain on the eyes resulting in muscle fatigue around the eyes.
Headaches and neck pain
This is the most common complaint of children affected due to long screen hours. They mostly complain about their behind part of head paining and severe neck pain. This is because of the constant motionless stare at the screen.
Changes In Behaviour
Some parents are complaining about the restless and cranky behavior of their child after switching towards the online mode of classes.
Sunken Eyes/Dark Circles Of Kids
Dark circles in kids are not mainly because of poor health or less sleep. But more likely because of dehydration or staring at the mobile screens for long hours. Check here how to deal with Sunken Eyes Of Kid.
As a Parent What You Need To Do?
You must have noticed that the screen time of your children has increased significantly during the lockdown. Yes, not only for classes but the children have gotten a habit of spending a lot more playing games and using different social media platforms on cell phones.
As a parent, it is very important to differentiate between educational and recreational screen time. Because children have become acquitted to digital gadgets and there is a risk that they might completely replace outdoor activities or even indoor time with screen time.
Scheduling the Screen Time
Establish a daily schedule for your children, minimize recreational screen time when the child is engaged in online classes for 3 or more hours.
Follow a 20-20-20 rule
As per The American Academy Of Opthalmology, screen time should have regular breaks between them, following the 20-20-20 rule: every 20mins later look away from the screen for at least 20secs. This allows your eyes to rest.
Adequate Lighting In the Room
Natural lighting is the best type of light for a study room – and it’s free!
Natural light has a positive impact on mood, and especially on the eyes. It helps minimize the stress on your eyes while reading or writing. Thus, make sure your child is sitting in a place having optimum lighting.
Proper Positioning Of Screens
Make sure that the screen is properly positioned at an optimum distance. Extra care must be taken to remove the slightest possibility that may exert pressure on the neck and shoulders.
Increasing Outdoor activities
Never let your kid replace outdoor activities with screen activities. For this, you may use a method named Digital Detox.
Therefore several applications available that allow the parents to set limits, restricting the screen time usage per day of the kid. This will enable the parents to know about the duration for which the kid is on digital gadgets, reminding them to disconnect and get a rest in between digital screen usage.
Are Zero Power Blue Light Glasses Safe For Kids?
Let us first gain a thorough knowledge of Blue light and how its exposure to eyes is bad.
What is Blue light?
Blue light is one of the types of light that form the whole light, we get from the Sun together with Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Violet, and Indigo. This is called the e/m spectrum of visible light. In the end, we have UV light that can’t actually be seen by the human eye.
The energy of these waves increases as we go towards the end making Blue Light one of the highest intensity types of visible light. The primary source of Blue is the Sun, but other devices also emit Blue light, they are
- Cell Phones
- LED lights
- Fluorescent screen.
Too much exposure to Blue light could lead to retinal damage. A kid’s eye is less capable of filtering Blue lights as compared to adults and that’s because more Blue light reaches a child’s retina than an adult.
Kids when indoor are exposed less to Blue light than when outdoor. But children who spent most of the time in front of screens are more likely to develop eye strain.
Long Exposures To Blue Light May Result In
- Eye damage and fatigue, this due to the high energy waves that are absorbed by the cornea. Blue light penetrates straight through and slowly deteriorates the retina.
- As our brain uses blue light to differentiate between day and night and boost alertness. Spending time on phones/tablets fools the body into thinking that it should keep you awake.
- It also decreases the secretion of Melatonin, a hormone that prepares your body for sleep. Scientists have found a correlation between Melatonin deprivation and conditions like cancer, diabetes, and clinical depression.
Are Zero Power Blue light Glasses Safe for Kid?
Zero Power Glasses also known as computer glasses are different from those of prescribed glasses. These glasses have zero power and they come with an anti-reflecting coat that helps in reducing the annoying glare from the digital screen and blocking the blue lights emitted from the LED screens of gadgets.
On the way to protect your child’s eyes from blue light is to buy a pair of blue light glasses. You can buy prescribed as well as non-prescribed glasses. Though it is advised to consult a doctor if your child already has Power glasses.
Zero power glasses block a specific wavelength of the e/m spectrum and help to protect the kids from digital eyestrain. Thus if you opt for a pair of zero Power glasses, it will block the bad Blue light and pass the good blue. Therefore, increasing the contrast of screen and safeguarding your kid’s eyes from harsh lights of digital display.
Parents may consider limiting the screen time of younger kids. The WHO and the American Academy of Pediatrics call for no screen time at all for kids younger than 2 years and no more than 1hour a day for children 2 to 5 years old.
A parent should also make an effort to supervise digital content and help their child to develop their own ability to select a way of decreàsing digital screen time.