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Chief Medical Officer issues advice on screen time for children and young people

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has issued advice on managing the amount of time children and young people spend engaging with mobile phones and tablet devices.

In 2019, most children and young people have grown up in school and home environments where internet enabled technology is easily accessible. Many children and young people now own their own mobile phone or tablet devices and with social networks such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, hours can be spent engaging and interacting every day.  The downside of spending too much time on phones and tablets is the dangers of the detrimental effects on physical and mental health.

The CMO has offered some tips on balancing screen time with healthy activities, including:

  • Sleep – ensure children and young adults enjoy quality, relaxing sleep. This will help them feel more awake and active during the day. Leave phones/tablets outside the bedroom.
  • Obey school rules – ensure boundaries are met with regards to electronic devices in schools.
  • Road safety – don’t use a phone whilst crossing the road.
  • Family time – spend time as a family, without electronic devices.
  • Sharing photos – ensure children and young people are fully informed of the dangers of sharing photos of themselves and others online.
  • Talking helps – if you notice a change in the mood of someone using a phone/tablet, try and gently encourage them to open up to you.

Our Director of Clinical Services, Stephen Hannan, offers the following advice for optimum physical health whilst using mobile phones/tablets, in particular with regards to eye strain:

  • Take advantage of the ‘blue light filter’ option if your phone has it. This filters out harmful blue light that can contribute to digital eye strain.
  • Ensure devices are held at a comfortable distance from the eye – often they are held far too close and cause eye strain.
  • Keep the screen clean to avoid glare.
  • Attend an eye examination regularly and ensure you wear your glasses if you are prescribed them. We advise getting your eyes examined every two years to maintain optimum eye health.

You can book an eye test at Optical Express using the link below.

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