Increased screen usage has been connected to risks to children’s eyesight and overall health.
According to a new study, children’s digital screen time has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, posing serious health consequences.
With various problems connected to increased screen usage, vision specialists at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) have highlighted concerns that this could impair children’s eyesight and general health.
Many countries closed their schools as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, causing an unprecedented shift to remote learning. To complete their studies, students were forced to rely on digital devices.
The review report, led by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and published in the Journal of School Health, looked at research studies conducted around the world during the pandemic, and the findings show a consistent picture of increased digital screen time for children and adolescents.
In Canada, 89 percent of parents reported that their children were playing longer than the two-hour daily limit recommended by health officials. In Germany, daily screen usage has climbed by about an hour. A study in Chile revealed that screen time among toddlers and pre-school children had nearly doubled to more than three hours per day, while researchers in Tunisia found that overall screen time for children aged 5–12 had increased by 111 percent.
Eye strain, unstable binocular vision (using both eyes adequately to generate a single visual image), uncorrected refractive error, and dry eyes are among the dangers to eye health connected with the use of digital gadgets.
According to the study, children and teenagers frequently use multiple devices at the same time, such as browsing social media on one device while watching material on another. Switching between devices causes a 22 percent increase in eye strain because it requires the eyes to adjust to varying distances between gadgets.
Increased screen time can cause neck and shoulder pain, as well as increasing the amount of time spent inactive. It’s also linked to overeating, which can lead to health problems like obesity.
Professor Shahina Pardhan, director of Anglia Ruskin University’s Vision and Eye Research Institute, said of the study’s lead author:
“It is critical to be aware of the potential risks to children’s eye and overall health in the short and long run. It is critical that devices are used correctly, and that activities other than digital devices, such as playing outside, are encouraged.
“Schools can ensure that time spent on digital devices is used for learning and that other activities are prioritized. Governments should collaborate with schools to develop home-based learning standards that promote creative learning away from technology, such as encouraging various forms of activities and taking frequent screen breaks.”
Dr. Robin Driscoll, a co-author, said:
“We were fortunate that students were able to use technology to compensate for the lack of in-person instruction during the pandemic. However, we must be cognizant of the dangers that increased screen time poses to their physical health.
“Teachers and parents should be encouraged to improve the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents in the school and beyond by raising knowledge of the hazards related with excessive levels of digital screen use and providing solutions to avoid the negative impacts.”