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Home » Articles by Urban Opticians » Rules and boundaries to screen use in children By Dr. M Jafferji

Rules and boundaries to screen use in children By Dr. M Jafferji

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As a parent, you find yourself struggling with screen use with you kids? Well, don’t sweat it too much.

During my 13 years of practice one of the most common complaints I get from parents is to do with their child’s screen addiction especially in boys. As an eye doctor and a parent of two boys I can totally understand the struggle we are facing at this time especially when children are literally home 24 hours and day during this lockdown.

Many parents are turning to mobile devices such as tablet and phones to occupy their children’s attention and I want to assure you that is absolutely fine as long as you keep boundaries and set some rule in place and make sure kids understand and follow them. Reinforcement will be needed on going basis on your part to maintain these rules.

Screen-based activities is basically a new form of near-work, and children who use devices tend to do so indoors for long uninterrupted periods with poor posture and at viewing distances closer than conventional books.

Here are some guidelines you can use to manage your child’s screen time.

1.  Child must take regular breaks from screens.

Screens can be addictive and it is easy to lose track of long uninterrupted periods of absorption in their devices. Even though shorter more frequent breaks are advisable, taking at least 15 minute break after two hours of device use at a minimum is recommended according to Review of Myopia Management.

2. Child should maintain a healthy face-to-screen distance.

It is recommended to keep a distance of at least 60cm for computer screens and at least 30cm for smart devices such as phones or tablets.

3. Encourage good posture at all times when using devices.

Essentially you don’t want your child to be bending their necks downwards for long periods of time. You can set up a designated ergonomic space such a desk where the screen can be placed at a line of sight which is more natural.

4. Find At-home alternatives to outdoor activities and screen time.

Our home may feel deceptively void of fun activities to do with your children, so Creating a routine for your child is a useful way to ensure that their time is used productively and with purpose. This routine should include blocks of screen-free playtime. If independent play is a struggle for your child, set aside some time to engage in play such as storytelling, having a workout session together and even doing household chores together.

Whatever you choose to do with your child, remember to use these moments as golden opportunities to spend some quality bonding time. Our environment is filled with distraction including a continually vibrating phone in our hand or pockets. Sadly, the phone usually wins the war for our attention, and when this happens, we lose an opportunity to connect with the child. So I find best is to keep your phone away when with kids.

After all, being forced to stay indoors with your child may be just be the excuse we need to get creative and embrace quality time with them. I think, this may be one of the best chances we will ever get.