Children are spending a staggering four hours a day looking at a screen, which is twice the amount of time they spent in front of screens in 2017, according to new research out today.
Optical Express has commissioned its annual survey looking into the use of screens in children aged 3-16, which revealed the dramatic increase in just two years.
Experts warn that if this level of screen time continues, the deterioration of eyesight could be accelerated. Studies have shown that low levels of outdoor activity, low levels of light exposure and prolonged time spent in front of the computer can influence the development of short-sightedness. In the UK today, one in five teenagers and three out of ten people are myopic. It is estimated that by 2050 half of the world’s population will be myopic.
A third of the 2,000 parents surveyed* admitted their child regularly complains of headaches but weren’t aware that this could be a symptom of excessive screen time and poor eyesight.
One in 10 parents have no idea how often to take their kids for eye tests and also don't know how to spot the symptoms of poor eyesight.
The same number confessed to only taking their children for an eye test because their child had asked.
Stephen Hannan, Clinical Services Director at Optical Express, said: “We can’t avoid screens in today’s world, more lessons are being taught at school using screens of different types and so we need to try and limit our children’s screen time at home as much as possible. Their vision can be reduced by up to half while closely focussing on a screen and it could also lead to dry spots and blurred vision.”
Stephen continued: “We urge parents to get their children’s eyes tested at least every two years. Our research revealed that disappointingly, a quarter of children are worried about being bullied for wearing glasses. It is important parents take action to encourage their children to wear their glasses to support their child’s development.
Symptoms to look out for:
- Your child complaining of headaches, dry eyes or blurred vision
- Noticing your child squinting or regularly rubbing their eyes
- Your child sitting too close to the TV or holding their books/ iPads too close or too far away?
Top 5 tips if your children spend one hour or more on a screen a day:
- Encourage them to have regular breaks at least every half an hour for 10 minutes
- Tell them to look up from their screens every few minutes to allow their eyes to focus on something in the further distance. This only needs to be for a few seconds at a time and can make a big difference
- Encourage them to take part in sport and activities without screens
- Don’t allow phones or iPads at the dinner table
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*Survey of 2000 parents of 3 – 16 year olds nationwide independently conducted by One Poll
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