The Eyesey Baby Chronicles: Screen Time – Friend or Foe?

The Little One turned 2 in January and is growing and changing at the rate of knots.

With both Hubby and I having professions in health care, we are very aware of how she is developing; specifically, in my case it’s her visual development and in hubby’s case it’s speech and language. We are naturally culprits of the parental desire that comes with wanting to ensure our child gets as much stimulation as possible so that her little brain can soak up everything to its full capacity.

And what a sponge she is. I only have to say something once and she picks it up straight away. Counting to 20 is 2nd nature now, although for some strange reason, the number 15 never features in the onslaught. The alphabet song happens without fail, every evening after brushing her teeth and woe betide anyone who tries to get her into bed without singing it with her.

One thing we have been very strict on though, is limiting screen time, despite the fact that there is a wealth of fantastic educational programmes out there.

So, are we right to be so restrictive?

Will screen time harm my child’s eyes?

The 2 buzz words of the moment in relation to screen use, are blue light and myopia. What is blue light and is it harmful to my child’s eyes? And will all this screen time make my child need glasses?

Sunlight contains red, orange, yellow, green and blue light rays, so blue light is naturally present in daylight. It is also something we can see from screens such as TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets.

There is no evidence to suggest that blue light causes damage to the eyes, at least not at the level of exposure that we have. However, there is evidence to suggest that carrying out near tasks using such things as mobile devices, screens and reading a book for a prolonged period of time, can cause eyestrain.

Other things to look out for are temporary blurred vision, sore, tired or achy eyes and headaches.

Using screens close to bedtime, may also affect your child’s quality of sleep, due to suppression of the hormone melatonin.

The other term I mentioned was myopia, or short-sightedness, which is increasing all over the world.

Family history, ethnic background, environment, and carrying out near vision tasks have all been linked to myopia development. However, there is no direct evidence to suggest that screen time alone is the direct cause. But there is good evidence to suggest that children who spend more time outdoors are at lower risk of developing short-sightedness.

So yes, I think Hubby and I are right in our concerns about overuse of screen time for the Little One.

I often get asked by parents to mention to their Little Ones (and not so Little Ones) about limiting the use of their computers, tablets and phones, and with genuine concern and belief, I do address this issue – using these devices is fine… in moderation.

Take regular breaks, and by that I don’t mean switch from looking at the tablet to looking at a text message or game on your phone. I mean a break that includes changing your focus of vision from near to distance. As the research shows, go outside, and especially with the weather becoming warmer, there should be very little reason not to.

Besides, we could all do with a little bit of Vitamin D.




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