Parents are constantly asking us about appropriate screen time for their kids. This concern is popping up more and more as the pervasiveness of technology in everyday life continues to grow at a rapid rate. While there is not a “one size fits all” answer, there are a few basic guidelines that most eye care professionals advise everyone to abide by:
The 20/20/20 Rule:
- Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break, and focus on something 20 feet away.
Reduction of Blue Light:
- Buy a blue light reducing screen protector or purchase one of many apps that can filter the blue light.
- Reduce screen time at night in order to avoid blue light affecting melatonin levels which affect sleep, blood sugar levels, and may be linked to other diseases according to a recent Harvard study.
2 Hours a Day Outside:
- For myopia reduction (2% for one hour outside a day, 28% for 2 hours a day)
Use of Slant Board:
- For reading (and writing), developmental optometrists recommend placing material on a surface raised at a 22 degree angle, which brings the surface more parallel to the face. This prevents a child from having to lean forward to read, reducing compression of the intevertebral discs and eye fatigue.
- The “Harmon Distance” is always highly recommended along with the slant board for proper visual hygiene. This is the optimal distance from the eyes to the reading material which is the distance from the elbow to the first knuckle.
- You can either purchase a slant board online at http://www.visualedgesb.com/ or simply use a 3 ring binder.
In 2016, The American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines for proper screen time for kids. Check out the guidelines below and in the following video:
Younger than 18 months:
• Avoid use of screen media other than video chatting
• High quality programming- watch it with them to help them understand what they’re seeing.
• Screen use 1 hour per day of high-quality programs
• Co-view with children (to help understand what are seeing and apply it to the world around them).
6 and older:
• Consistent limits on time spent and types of media