The world has never been more digital than it is now. On the one hand, having digital access to museums, libraries, and classes can help kids expand their horizons and learn more about the world. Unfortunately, there are negative effects of looking at screens all day for kids. Thankfully, there are also multiple mindful solutions.
Eye strain, or eye fatigue, is caused by overuse of the eye. While this can happen without screens, the prolonged focus that screens require can significantly worsen the strain that occurs. There are several ways you can reduce digital eye strain, such as dimming the brightness on the devices your children use, taking breaks, and wearing blue light glasses.
While screen time isn’t the sole factor in children developing nearsightedness, the consistent close-up work of online school or reading on a screen increases the risk factor. Screens don’t require viewers to shift their focus from near to far, so children who haven’t had practice doing so in the natural world may find themselves struggling to do so after spending long stretches on screens. Taking breaks from all digital screens, doing schoolwork that’s not all virtual, and spending time outside are the best ways to mitigate this risk factor.
It’s not just the thrilling video games and exciting movies that can affect your child’s sleep. The blue light emitted by screens can alter the brain’s natural sleep rhythms, which is problematic for anyone who uses devices later in the day. Children are doubly impacted since they require more sleep than adults. Avoiding screens in the hour before bed and limiting screen time throughout the day can help eliminate sleep problems.
Mental Health Issues
The variety of media available through screens can overstimulate your child, which can lead to irritability, mood swings, and anxiety. Taking breaks from screens and practicing mindfulness, either during those breaks or at other points in the day, can help your child regulate their emotions and better manage their mental health.
Lack of Physical Activity
Screens encourage viewers to be sedentary, which can be particularly damaging for growing children. Lack of physical exercise can impact physical coordination, healthy weight maintenance, and muscle development. Making sure to have active technology breaks, not simply switching out a tablet for a book, will help curb inactivity and keep your child healthy.
The negative effects of looking at screens all day for kids are overwhelming for concerned caregivers, especially in an age that’s only getting more digital. However, remembering to take breaks and practice mindfulness during those breaks will allow children to enjoy their age-appropriate technology and still grow up to be healthy and happy.