Until a few months ago, we would have never imagined that our kids would be exposed to several hours of screen time every day and we would have no choice but to let them be. The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled kids to use mobile phones, tablets and laptops for online classes, entertainment and social connectivity. A recent survey found that children are spending 100% more time online since the lockdown. This has, of course, increased the concern among parents regarding the eye health of their kids.
Well, your worry is understandable! The last thing you want is to see your kid complaining of vision problems and their associated impact on the overall well-being. As of now, there is not much you can do about the screen time because it is a new normal and need of the hour in the ongoing situation. However, you can take a few precautionary measures to ensure good eye health of your kids.
Restrict the Digital Exposure Beyond Necessary
It’s quite likely that your kids are spending a lot of time on gadgets browsing or chatting mindlessly all day. Do not let them use gadgets other than online classes or occasional video chats in a day.
Engage Them in Non-Screen Activities
While this may sound a difficult task, encourage your kids to spend their time in non-screen activities such as doing art & craft, reading paperback books, helping in household chores, playing with siblings, writing a journal, exercising, toys and games, etc. Take out at least 1-2 hours a day to spend quality time with your kids.
Give Them Screen Breaks
Make sure that your kids take at least 5-10 minutes of break from the screen every 30-40 minutes during online classes or whenever they are watching something online. If your child’s school doesn’t allow such breaks in between the classes, you must address this issue with the school on priority.
Make Them Blink Their Eyes
When kids or even adults stare at the screen continuously, they forget to blink frequently. You can either remind your kids to blink or still better, set up some kind of auto-reminder on their gadgets. For example, you can set up a screen saver, pop-ups or sound notifications. There are even eye care apps which you install on the phones to give these reminders.
Teach Them Eye Exercises
Ask your child to do eye rotations up and down and sideways several times a day. There are also some fun eye exercises with pencils, sun, ball and imaginary clock that you kid would love to do. You can easily find instructions to do these exercises on the internet.
Ensure Correct Posture
Make sure that your kids are sitting comfortably with their back straight with their foot resting firmly on the ground. Do not let them use the gadget in a lying, slouching or hunching position in bed or any other place. A wrong posture can strain their eyes.
Maintain the Correct Eye Distance from the Gadget
Keep the gadget at least 20-30 inches or at an arm’s length from the eye level of your kid. It should be positioned such that the child doesn’t have to strain his/her eyes or neck upwards or downwards too much.
Ensure Proper Illumination
When using a gadget, your child should sit in an area which gets natural light in the day time. If not possible, then ensure that the child gets sufficient illumination in that space. Keep a check on the brightness level of the screen. Adjust it to the room lighting so that your kid doesn’t have to strain his or her eyes harder. You even buy an anti-glare screen or filter for the screen.
Turn on Blue Light Filters on the Device
Blue light from devices may keep your child from sleeping well. Most mobile phones and other personal computing devices have an in-built blue light or night shift feature that you can turn on after the evening sets in. There are also blue light apps you can install on the phone.
Your child’s eye health is in your hands. If your child complaints about any eye problems seek medical consultation immediately.