Establish Guidelines for Electronics to Keep Eyes Healthy this Summer

In previous generations, kids spent the summer riding bikes around the neighborhood, playing football at the park, stomping through creeks, and climbing trees. Maybe there were more twisted ankles, sunburns, bruises, and poison ivy rashes, but that just came with the territory. Remember when the only rule that Mom had was, “Be home before dark”? For many reasons, those days are gone, and we favor a more protected, indoor environment for today’s children.

While there are advantages of kids remaining inside, such as better safety and fewer broken bones, there is also a downside. Without the stimulation of the fresh air, sunshine and variety of outdoor activities, kids can become bored and resort to sedentary, passive ways to spend their time, such as watching television, playing video games or playing apps on their digital devices (Source: The Columbian Blogs).

VSP Vision Care conducted a survey and discovered that, by the age of 2, the average child has at least one digital device and clocks about 30 hours per week looking at a screen. By the age of 13, most children play on an average three digital devices and spend 70 hours per week looking at a screen. Four years later, these teenagers have spent 50,000 hours using electronics. That equals one-third of their lifetime!

Instead of arguing that “We live in a digital world and we depend on electronics!”, we need to start listening to our eye care specialists. High-energy light that emanates from these electronic devices is adversely affecting our eyesight. This light, known as blue light, is de-focused by the eye lens and scatters, producing what our eyes sense as glare. After hours of processing this blue light, we can experience eye fatigue, dry eye, blurred vision, headaches, and refractive errors.

The best way that we can manage digital eye strain is to place boundaries on screen time for ourselves and our children. Adults are some of the worst culprits for overusing electronics, so a healthy little dose of self-control is probably necessary for every member of the family. Here are some strategies to help you and your family combat digital eye strain:

  1. Lead by example. Set specific hours that digital devices will not be used at home. You will probably notice an increase in interaction and conversation!
  2. Go outside and play! Research shows that outdoor play reduces the risk of nearsightedness! There are many family-friendly activities that appeal to all age levels. Incorporate “Outdoor Family Fun” into your summer calendar by scheduling activities like Frisbee golf, family walks/hikes, bike riding, or even a game of tag in the back yard. You’ll be amazed at how refreshing it can feel to just be outside.
  3. Use electronics as a reward for children. You could limit screen time to weekends, car trips or special occasions.
  4. Charge all digital devices in one place at night. The kitchen or dining room is always a good idea. This keeps everyone accountable to turn off their devices at a certain time each night and not be tempted to turn them back on.
  5. Schedule comprehensive eye exams for the family. This allows you to get regular assessments of your family’s eye health.

 

Related Articles:

Create Boundaries for Screen Time to Protect Your Child’s Vision
Overusing Electronics can Worsen Nearsightedness
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