Your child’s phone and tablet could be harming their eyes, expert warns
The age of phones and tablets
This century has riddled the world with a gargantuan amount of electronic waste. Most of it being phones and tablets. Wonder why? I’ll give you a hint, it’s us. Consumer demand for portable phones and computers took an exponential rise owing to its versatility, flexibility and user friendliness. It connects you to the world – networked and never alone. Phone companies have made ground breaking inventions to make sure that the demand never goes down. From the basic cell phones to the smartphones/tablets that we have today, we’ve come a long way and so has our need for it. Unsurprisingly, we’ve passed this legacy onto our children. This luxury of connecting with each other at any time possible has led to something else – an addiction. There is an unlimited supply of entertainment provided by the smartphones/tablets for adults and children alike. It has caused us to turn to a new addiction and other than the provision of funny memes, this toxic addiction is doing no good. The worst affected by these gadgets are the eyes and there are no points for guessing why.
The phone addiction in children
The eyes of children are the most vulnerable. It’s their curiosity that attracts them to phones and the entertainment glues them on. They depend on their phones for their studies, entertainment, information and just about everything. The continuous use of these gadgets has never had worse side effects than now and it’s time we teach our kids about it. But before that, how much are you aware of the consequences of these electronic displays?
The displays of phones and tablets emit blue light emissions. These emissions are extremely harmful to children’s eyes as it directly causes deterioration of the retina cells. Ophthalmologists have reported an exponential increase in the number of eye strain and dry eye cases in children. These issues can be treated with regular breaks between screen time, but the ill-effects of blue light are not entirely known. There are researches that are being done to study the effects of these emissions and new concerns are coming to light (no pun intended) every day.
All the display screens on devices nowadays are made of LEDs. To have better visual and colour quality, LEDs have a large amount of blue light emission as compared to devices having LCD displays.
The harm is found to be directly proportional to the closeness of the screen to the eye. Which means that phones and tablets cause the most harm than any other device. Longer screen time has also been found to decrease blinking - a reason for dry eyes and eye strain.
Why are children the worst affected?
Adults suffer from the adverse effects of blue light emissions due to long courses of screen time, too. But the damage on their eyes is not nearly as much as the damage in children’s eyes. This is because, over the years, the lens in the adult eye starts to yellow, blocking most of the blue light from entering the eye. This is not the case for children as their eyes are still developing and the rays can easily reach their retinas.
Effects of blue light emissions in children
Blue light is important as it lifts the mood and boosts concentration during the day, but has appalling consequences at night as it disturbs the sleep cycle significantly. Melatonin, a hormone that controls the sleep-wake cycle is curbed significantly due to the blue light. This disturbs the sleep cycle in children, especially when there is phone use a couple of hours before sleeping. A child must have 8 hours of sleep every night and phone use adversely affects it.
Blue light emitted by phones, tablets and other display devices causes damage to the retina. In children, this can cause an early inception of macular degeneration. It may go to the extent where they won’t be able to see colours properly. It is the main cause of blindness before the age of 50. Also, it can result in the early onset of cataract in adults who were largely exposed to blue lights as children. While these are the long-term effects of the blue light, the short-term or immediate effects are red eyes, decrease in focus and sleep, body ache, etc.
One way to avoid these issues is using glasses with a protective film that blocks blue lights and can be worn during the screen time. A study by Spanish researchers in 2013 warned that retina damage could become an epidemic owing to the constant phone and tablet use in the later years.
Small ways that we can adopt to safeguard children
1. Have a healthy diet which includes oodles of vitamin A to keep the eyes at top notch health.
2. Exercise regularly.
3. Find alternatives to screen playtime, like going outdoors for playing.
4. Create awareness amongst children about the importance of blinking and taking regular breaks between screen times.
5. Children should be allowed to use the phone or tablet only for an hour per day to reduce the exposure to blue light.
A survey by Live Well found that full time workers spend up to 8 hours a day in front of a screen. Blinking is reduced during these hours and the eyes are open wider than the times when you are reading a book or doing other activities. It results in dry eyes and strains them.
One easy method to avoid this is to follow the 20-20-20 rule. It means, you need to stand up from the desk after every 20 mins, look away for 20 seconds and blink 20 times.
There are many ways that can be followed to reduce the effect of using phones and tablets in children. While it may not be possible to follow all suggestions, the above few would be extremely helpful to keep your precious children’s eyes guarded from screen harm. The healthy changes you make in your children’s life now will reflect on their health all their lives. After all, if you don’t educate your children about these dangers now, then who will?
Author: Prajakta Gaikwad – Blogger at Tinychaps
About Tinychaps: It is a FREE and the EASIEST way to find a daycare or homecare that fits your family's needs. Tiny Chaps has a comprehensive database of daycare and preschools spanning all over the US & Canada. Let’s together find a caring, safe and secure haven for your child..