How much screen time is okay for kids?

family of three
August 28, 2019
James Ashford

Is there a safe amount of screen time for my kids? How much is okay? What about the use of technology at school? Do they need special eyewear when they’re using digital devices?

To answer these questions, let’s take a look at what we know about digital devices and how they’re used today.

Over 70% of American families report their kids are getting more than two hours of screen time every single day. Besides playing outside, playing on a digital device and watching tv are reported as kids’ top activities these days. 

Of course, kids aren’t just using devices at home. They’re also using them at school. Do you remember back in the day when we all learned off of black and green chalkboards? Today, old-fashioned chalkboards have been replaced by shiny whiteboards — the dry-erase kind, and the digital kind.

While this advent of technology helps teachers and kids learn in new, interactive ways, it can also take a toll on young eyes.

After being exposed to two or more hours of screen time, parents report their children experience the following:

  • Headaches
  • Neck/shoulder pain
  • Eye strain, dry or irritated eyes
  • Reduced attention span
  • Poor behavior
  • Irritability

Why do our devices have these effects, and what can we do about it?

BLUE LIGHT

The full spectrum of visible light that we see is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

The light emitted by digital devices like laptops, tablets, smartphones and modern TVs is blue. 

Unfortunately, Blue Light happens to be the light that suppresses the production of melatonin, the sleep-promoting hormone. 

That’s why experts like Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, believe it’s best to avoid staring at computer screens, iPads and smartphones two or three hours before bedtime. 

What can we do to curb some of these negative effects?

LIMIT SCREEN TIME

When it comes to kids, setting healthy boundaries and limiting their time on devices (especially in the evening), is the first step. 

Here are a few ways to limit screen time:

  1. Model healthy electronic use: as a parent, show your kids how to have healthy habits. That means turning the tv off and not scrolling through your social media feed all the time.
  2. Create technology-free zones around the house: many families have a no-technology rule at dinner times, for instance. This means no phones or tablets at the table, so families can sit down and enjoy each other’s company.
  3. Keep digital devices out of bedrooms: we know devices can be addictive, and we know they can interfere with sleep. That’s why keeping phones, computers, and TVs out of the bedroom is so important.
  4. Talk to your kids about the dangers! One of the best and most proactive things we can do as parents is to educate our kids (and ourselves), on the dangers of digital devices (when over-used). Help your kids understand why it’s not healthy to be constantly plugged in so they can practice making their own wise decisions.

A part of setting healthy limits includes teaching kids to take breaks to minimize eye strain and give their brain a break, too. Encourage your kids to do activities that get them moving, like playing, going outside, socializing — and just being kids! For more tips on how to minimize eye strain — like the 20-20-20 rule — read our blog on Relieving Computer Eye Strain.

USE BLUE BLOCKERS

Due to our increasing reliance on digital devices for school, work, and entertainment, it’s not always possible to set time limits that work. 

That’s where blue blockers come into place.

Blue blockers are eyewear that, as the name implies, block some or all Blue Light.

This can help protects kids’ ability to sleep well if they’re required to spend time on the computer before bed.

A small 2014 study of Swiss teen boys (published in the Journal of Adolescent Health) found a significant difference between the teens wearing blue blockers than those wearing clear lenses. The group that wore blue blockers while working on the computer a few hours before bedtime were significantly more sleepy than the group who wore only clear lenses.

If you and your kids already have prescription eyewear, you can get lenses that have Blue Light-filtering capabilities. Make sure to talk to your eye care provider to learn about your options.

Don’t wear glasses or contact lenses? That’s okay! You can also get non-prescription blue blocker lenses. Ask your eye care provider for recommendations for a reputable brand.

While we can’t always remove the digital devices from our kids’ lives, the most important thing we can do as parents is set healthy limits, teach smart habits, get kids outside, and get simple eyewear that helps.

Talk to your optometrist to learn more about Blue Light-blocking technology.

Sources:

  1. http://www.thevisioncouncil.org/content/digital-eye-strain
  2. https://www.consumerreports.org/eyeglass-stores/3-blue-blockers-put-to-the-test/
  3. https://www.verywellfamily.com/tips-for-limiting-electronics-and-screen-time-for-kids-1094870

[formlift id=”804″]

Not sure where to get started with recommending self-funded plans? Vision Care Direct of Oklahoma is pre-paid plan provider with and extensive of specialists who deliver eye care in Tulsa and nationwide with excellent value for employers and plan recipients.

Find out more about our self-funded plans and other flexible options.

GET LASIK DISCOUNT

Learn about benefits of LASIK for Vision Care Direct of Oklahoma members.

Let's Talk About You

Let us know if you have any questions or if you’d like to chat.

Popular blog posts

Top 5 KPIs to Track When Assessing Plan Performance and Satisfaction

Top 5 KPIs to Track When Assessing Plan Performance and Satisfaction

As a broker, you need to maintain a diverse product portfolio so you can help companies build packages adapted to their needs and budgets. Tracking these 5 key performance indicators when comparing plans will help you better identify the ones that are more likely to...

How to Get Discounts on Frames and Discontinued Lines

How to Get Discounts on Frames and Discontinued Lines

Eyewear and contact lenses are vital to the optometry field. Keeping this in mind, doctors should be aware of the purchase costs of these goods to boost their revenue. Frame reps make commissions on sales, so they’re incentivized to sell as much as possible, but are...

Designing a Modern Optometry Practice

Designing a Modern Optometry Practice

One question that optometrists should consider is, “When patients walk into your optometry office, how do you want them to feel?” Naturally, patients desire comfortable, welcoming, and modern environments, as these characteristics put them at ease. Therefore,...

November 2022: Native American Heritage Month

November 2022: Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month celebrates a rich culture and educates people about issues unique to the Native American community. It’s an opportunity to draw attention to health issues that disproportionately affect Native Americans. It’s a group that is at higher...

Top 3 Reasons to Work with Smaller Plan Providers

Top 3 Reasons to Work with Smaller Plan Providers

In the healthcare benefits industry, brokers are essential in helping small businesses find plans. Smaller companies might not have the resources or experience to do thorough research into the options available. Fortunately, there are brokers who understand that...

3 Signs It’s Time to Review and Upgrade Your Benefits Package

3 Signs It’s Time to Review and Upgrade Your Benefits Package

A routine inventory of your benefits package can tell you where you may be able to reduce spending and, equally importantly, can also ensure that it continues to meet the needs of employees. That’s why Vision Care Direct of Oklahoma recommends reviewing your benefits...

October 2022: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 2022: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You might be wondering about the link with vision health. The truth is that a simple eye exam can sometimes detect early signs of cancer. Breast cancer can result in metastasis. When cancer cells break away from the main tumor, they...

Understanding the Ins and Outs of the Vision Plans You Accept

Understanding the Ins and Outs of the Vision Plans You Accept

For eye doctors in Tulsa OK, as well as other states, a regular review of the plans you’re currently accepting, and their ins and outs, is something you should be doing. By understanding the vision plans you accept, you can better identify how you are paid and the...

Top Strategies for Helping Plan Providers Meet Their Goals

Top Strategies for Helping Plan Providers Meet Their Goals

When trying to reduce healthcare spending, employers who offer employee benefits in the state of Oklahoma, as well as anywhere else, should be aware of one fact: there are options available that don’t increase the costs to employees via high deductibles. As a broker,...

Rethinking How You Offer Value Part 3: Build Digital Connections

Rethinking How You Offer Value Part 3: Build Digital Connections

The pandemic has sped up the digital transformation. Many professionals are embracing the virtual world because they realize connections matter. We've been sharing tips about how to rethink the way you offer value as a broker who offers plans accepted by an...

eGuide: Top 10 Ways Vision Care Direct Makes a Broker’s Job Easier

eGuide: Top 10 Ways Vision Care Direct Makes a Broker’s Job Easier

Top 10 Ways eGuide - Vision Care Direct Makes a Broker’s Job EasierOur eGuide is chocked full of ways Vision Care Direct can simplify working with a vision plan.  When you quote a vision plan certainly you are looking at the price and size of the network, and so is...

Search blog posts