How to Protect your Kids’ Eyes and Ears in a Digital World

How to Protect your Kids’ Eyes and Ears in a Digital World

Because I enjoy spending time with the kids in the family so much, I almost get offended when they ask me to play with my smart-phone. I always think: “Wait, when did an app become more interesting than me?” 🙂

Just like grown-ups, kids get addicted to technology and the gadgets they are surrounded by. Most of the parents are worried, or even frustrated about the fact that apps, video games and social networks are taking the lead from traditional offline, outdoor fun. Aside from the problematic content kids can encounter in a digital world (you can find some useful info about trending issues in my previous blog post) there is an ongoing debate about the health consequences of too much screen/earphones time.

Sorry, son, your screen time is up for today!

According to American Academy of Pediatrics, today’s children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including TV, computers, phones and other electronic devices. Although studies conducted so far don’t show the direct connection between the amount of screen usage when you are a child and long-term vision issues, there are still issues to be concerned about. For example, we are not really sure how it affects babies’ vision and its development. Moreover, I believe that common sense would agree that too much screen time can’t be good for kids. Therefore, it is recommended that parents (grandparents, aunts):

–        Take kids to ophthalmologists regularly. That way you make sure to discover and treat potential medical problems on time. Discovering vision problems early can be of crucial importance for their treatment.

–        Limit daily screen time (maximum 2 hours). Rather than just enforcing rules, parents need to spend quality time with their kids, so that computer/phone/TV can have an awesome competitor for kids’ attention.

–        Teach kids to look away from the screen from time to time and not to suppress natural blinking. These practices can help with preventing dry eyes out and eye strain. Parents should encourage kids to take (at least) 20-second breaks away from the computer every 20 minutes and look at something at least 20 feet (approximately 6 meters) away.

–        Take care about the set up of child’s computer work station. The screen should be 20-24 inches from the child’s eyes and at a 10-15 degree angle below the child’s eye level. The light in the room should ideally be lower than the computer screen to minimize glare.

Headphones are better than earphones/ear buds for your kid.

Headphones are the best alternative because they are more hygienic and they block the background noise.

Sometimes kids want to block the noise of surrounding world (who mentioned parents?) and just enjoy their favorite music. No problem, with just a spoonful of parental oversight. Experts agree on this one – headphones are safer for your kids’ ears than earphones/ear buds that are placed directly in the ear canal. Ear buds are not that good at blocking background noise so kids tend to turn the volume up. Also, headphones are more convenient if you think about hygiene. And when it comes to kids – you can attract them with cool designs.

More recommendations include:

–        Limiting the volume of personal devices your kid uses to 60% of maximum volume.  Most of the headphones designed for kids will let you do this, and there are also apps that can help: Volume Control+ (free, Android) and Volume Sanity ($2.99, iTunes) as well as a volume restriction setting on iOS (Settings, Music, Volume Limit).

–        It is recommended to limit headphones use to a maximum of 1.5 hours per day.

Image Credits: Philippe Put

Author:

Ivana Drakic

Ivana is a political scientist by vocation and a dancer by heart. She loves to be around geeky people. This mixture explains her interests in technologies, data, writing, research.

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