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Our children have been and will be born into a generation of digital natives; brought up in a time of rapid technological change and advancement. What our parents struggle to learn, technology-wise, will be natural for our kids. With portable electronic devices just an adult or teenager away, it is likely that most of our children have access to digital devices on a regular basis. Although many of the TV shows, apps and games our children play are educational, it is imperative that we establish healthy habits when it comes to the amount of time babies, toddlers and young children spend in screen land. It is important to take care of your baby’s digital health !
How Much Is Too Much?
For infants under two years of age screens are an absolute no go policy. This may be difficult to implement if they have older siblings who enjoy watching Play School but it is important in the early stages of development that their little, growing eyes aren’t locked onto digital screens.
Children aged two to five should be limited to no more than one hour screen time per day including time spent on different kinds of devices.
Children aged five to eighteen years of age should have no more two hours of screen time which is not much at all when you take assignments and laptop programs in schools into account.
Why is digital health Important?
As children’s eyes are still developing, the blue light emissions from LED screens can penetrate directly into the retina. Too much exposure can lead to symptoms that range from dry eyes and eye strain to damaging of the retina, early onset of macular degeneration and in extreme cases, blindness.
With growing rates of childhood obesity in Australia there are concerns that too much screen time can produce long term bad habits in children such as a lack of physical activity and social interaction in different environments.
How You Can Help
Lead by example and limit your own screen time. As children learn by example, limiting the amount of time you spend watching TV and on your portable devices will teach them to do the same.
Educate your children on the importance of taking regular screen breaks and remind them to blink while watching TV. If you want to take it to the next level, blue light blocking filters are now available in some optometrists for prescription and non prescription lenses. They can also be found in various electronic retailers.
Ensure you are implementing outdoor and active time as part of your children’s daily routine. Include them in your healthy habits and exercise as a family. My five year old niece loves to “lift weights” with her Daddy. Bike riding, playing in the park and going hiking are fun ways to move and build relationship with them.
For Your Own Digital Health
Full time workers and Gen Y-ers spend an average of eight hours in front of screens daily. To help take care of your own eye sight, implement the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, stand up from your desk, stare into the distance for 20 seconds and blink 20 times.
The earth is a spectacular place with so much to discover and explore so let’s ensure that our little ones are able to enjoy it’s beauty for a lifetime.