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Children and Digital Devices

Technology may play a large role when it comes to education and our children, however, there are risks that come along with too much screen time. Screen time is defined by the amount of time a person spends staring at digital displays such as computers, tablets, smartphones, television, etc.

Babies are the most vulnerable to screens. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies aged 18 months and younger should not be exposed to any digital media. The noise is just as distracting for infants. Babies can be overstimulated by sounds, which may cause distress and sleep problems. For children 2 to 5 years of age, screen time should be limited to one hour per day. The AAP gives cartoons a thumbs down because toddler-aged children cannot decipher between fiction and non-fiction. However, they give a thumbs up to media such as Skype or Facetime with friends and relatives. An hour of this style of media can promote healthy development. For children ages 6 and older, parents can determine the restrictions for total screen time. The AAP states that digital media should never replace healthy activities or social face-to-face interactions, but they do state that an average day for a child 6 and older consists of 8-12 hours of school, homework, physical activity, social contact, and sleep. Whatever time is left over after these key aspects are done, can be screen time.

According to The Vision Council, 30% of parents report their children experience at least one of the following symptoms after being exposed to more than two hours of screen time per day:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Eye strain, dry or irritated eyes
  • Reduced attention span
  • Poor behavior
  • Irritability

The LED screens of digital devices produce high-energy visible light known as “blue light.” Blue light has shorter wavelengths and higher energy than most other rays and can be harmful to the light-sensitive retina of the eye. Too much exposure to blue light can also lead to disruption of your child’s sleep/wake schedule, which in return, can come with very serious health consequences.

If your child is exposed to digital devices higher than the recommended frequency stated above, we suggest they wear blue light glasses. These glasses help reduce the amount of blue light that enters the eye, ultimately reducing the risk of retina damage and short-term symptoms like headaches and eye strain. Call us at (941) 756-2020 to get your child a pair of blue light glasses today!