With smart devices everywhere, here’s what you can do to encourage proper use to ensure good eye health.
WORDS DR MO DIRANI
As parents, we want to keep our children in the best health. We want to give them a balanced diet, enough play time to keep them fit and healthy and keep them healthy mentally as well.
One area that’s often overlooked is eye health. We think back to the times that we were kids and we didn’t have such problems until we were exposed to computer screens. But now, screens can come in the form of a smart devices and fit into the palm of your little one’s hands. With over 80 per cent of teenagers and young adults affected by myopia, it’s no wonder Singapore is considered the myopia capital of the world.
Let’s face it – smart devices is an inevitability for our kids. But what we can do is encourage proper use to not only ensure good eye health but prevent smartphone addiction. Here are eight different ways you can help your kid with.
1. Take into consideration the time spent.
According to studies, the total time spent on a smartphone shouldn’t exceed more than 2 hours a day (and no time at all for those aged 2 years or less). Not only should it not exceed 2 hours but...
2. Make sure your kids are taking regular breaks in between.
Your little one should not be spending more than 30 minutes on his or her smart device at one go. Take a break after half an hour.
3. And in that break, get them to look out into a distance.
Get your child to look out into the distance for at least 20 seconds and have a 2-minute walk around while they’re having their eye break.
4. Keep a good distance between their face and the device.
There is no exact guideline for this as reading distances may vary, but as a general guideline keep it at least 30cm away.
5. Ensure your child is adopting the right posture when using the device.
Otherwise known as the infamous text neck - just look up from your phone or computer (you might already be doing it while reading this), and you’ll definitely see someone craning their neck over a smartphone. As a rule of thumb, make sure that your child is sitting up straight, and his or her neck is not tilted downward more than 30 degrees.
6. Get up and get out.
Letting your children spend time outdoors might be one of the most important things you can do to slow down the progression of myopia. Just at least 2 hours’ outdoors is more than enough to help you achieve this.
7. Get your eyes checked regularly.
Especially true if your little one is already begun to develop myopia, go for an eye check-up regularly. For kids over 6 years old, this should be done annually.
8. Blue light is a bad night light.
Studies have shown that exposure to blue light from smart devices at night can cause disruption to sleep. A blue light filter can be used to change the type of light you are exposed to at night. There are certain smartphone apps that can help change your phone’s lighting.
A lot of these expect us parents to be on the ball, watching over our kids’ shoulders 24/7. Lucky for us, these days there are assistive appsto help parents be there when they can’t.
Dr Mo Dirani is the founder of plano, a parental management tool designed to slow down the progression of myopia. He also co-authored the book series, the plano adventures.