As we discussed last week, Digital Eye Strain is a condition caused by computers or other screens that can cause hazy, blurred vision and can make eyes burn and feel dry, itchy and irritated. It can also lead to problems focusing, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, fatigue and "moving words" on your screen.
Beyond the possible impacts on vision, studies show that increased screen time also has a significant mental health impact many of which have been well documented.
Here are a few strategies to manage kids' use of digital devices:
- Set a limit on daily screen time. Make it clear to your kids and stick to it.
- Encourage your child to spend some of that screen-free time outdoors while it is still light.
- Establish screen-free zones: no smartphone use for anyone in the family in the car, for example, at restaurants, or at the dinner table.
- No screens in the bedroom when it is time for bed. No exceptions.
- Model moderate screen use as a parent. Show your children, with your own behavior, how to live a rich, varied and healthy life where all habits are practiced in moderation
- Teaching kids about moderation is an important life skill, so feel confident in setting healthy boundaries.
- Here are some healthy alternatives to screen time helping keep kids entertained:
- Go outside – Whether it’s bike riding, hula hooping, or coloring with chalk it’s important to get some fresh air and get those bodies moving when you can.
- Have them help out around the house – With COVID-19 it’s important to keep frequently touched surfaces clean such as doorknobs, light switches, and sinks. Turn it into a game and see how many surfaces they can get to while timing it.
- Crafts – Crafting helps kids develop fine motor skills, encourages self-expression and promotes creativity. Have your kids channel their inner Picasso and create the next masterpiece to hang on your new home office wall.
- Now is the time to drag out the Legos and all of the other building block type of activities. Construction play builds spatial skills that are associated with science and technology careers.
- Shake out the board games. Playing board games helps stimulate brain areas that are responsible for memory formation and complex thought processes for all ages.
Dr. Keshav Bhat is the owner (and an Optometrist) at Union Family Eye Associates in Matthews. Dr. Bhat is a father of two boys in the Weddington School District. Just like us, he is navigating this new era of pandemic schooling.