Much Better Screen Time For Kids! How To Make Online Learning Work Well For Your Child
HEALTHY SCREEN TIME AND ONLINE LEARNING FOR KIDSWhether It's Online Learning And School Work Or Social Media and Connecting With Friends, but Screen Time For Kids Is The New Normal.
Most parents ask how much screen time their kids should have.
That's a great question and it's important. But how much time on technology needs to be balanced with how it's used and what kids are doing online.
Overall, The World Health Organization, The American Academy of Pediatrics—a professional association of 60,000+ pediatricians and pediatric specialists and the Founder of the internet addiction movement, Dr. Kimberly Young all agree that kids under 5 shouldn't be exposed to over an 1 hour a day of time on screens.
But as kids get older and being online to socialize and learn has become a necessity, doctors and psychologists are mixed on the right amount of screen time for kids.
Last week Dr. Taz had a digital connection specialist on her podcast. Dr. Taz said that now that her kids are online so much, sometimes she'll look at them and see what she calls "Tech Face" that glazed over look that comes from too much time staring at the screen.
When deciding how much is too much, parents will make the best decision by determining the type of screentime. Not all screen time is created equal. Here are the basic categories of online screen time.
- Online Class
- Home work
- Connecting online with Friends and Family
- Social Media Time
- Gaming Time
#1 Guideline To Determine The Right Amount of Screen Time For Your Child
All the recommendations we have in this Healthy Screen Time For Kids is designed to make sure parents set up healthy school and learning works spaces and habits to assure their bodies benefit by healthy tech hygiene.
Sleep: Healing, Calming, Regenerating Rest Can Make Learning Online Easier.
Growing kids need to sleep to keep growing and to stay healthy. So most importantly make sure your child is getting the right amount for their age.
The AAP recommends kids 6-12 get 10.5 hours of sleep. So as you map out their healthy screen time start by carving out at least 10.5 hours for rest and at least an hour for physical activity. Then add in time for meals and just hanging out.
For teens, the AAP reminds us that they need from 8 to 10 hours of sleep. One thing that can really effect kids sleep are those bright screens themselves.
Setting Up Technology For Healthy Learning Time Online
Now that most kids are during all of their learning online and from home, it's super important that we set up a physical space for healthy online learning. Here are some great foundational tips to get you started:
1) Keep the Screen At least one foot away from their eyes and bodyHelp Prevent Near-sightedness: A computer monitor is nice and big and is ideally about 2 feet from my eyes and is positioned so that when I look straight ahead--the top of the monitor is even with my eyes.
2) Position Screen For Maximum Eye RelaxationRaise the screen and Angle Back your monitor very slightly- if you keep your child's gaze, slightly looking down, which means the top of the monitor comes just about even with their eyes and the monitor is just 15 degrees tilted, their eye muscles are more relaxed. Try this one your self and see!
3) Help Your Child Avoid Eye Fatigue and Strain by Taking Frequent BreaksI'm all about the 20-20-2 minute rule. Every twenty minutes I take my eyes off the screen and look 20 feet away for 2 minutes--experts say just 20 seconds of looking away is all that's needed to reduce eye strain--but I really think for kids, they need a bit more of break to relax before diving into more work.
4) Limit Eye Tension By Adjusting the Light On The Screen BrightnessI make it a point to adjust my computer screen brightness to the brightness of the light in the room. I LOVE natural light and always turn off any fluorescent lights I see, but even LED's or nice halogen lights can be annoying and make it hard for my eyes to adjust to the screen. I have a beautiful view of an adorable downtown street out my office window, however, when the sun goes down and I stare right at the glare just past my computer, then it's time for glasses or time to call it a day.
5) Wire up for faster internet and decreased exposure to EMF
EMF Radiation comes from most of your wireless devices and is proven to have a negative effect on our bodies and minds. Exposure to EMF's is even more detrimental to children - their little bodies are different than ours. Their skulls are thinner and the fact that their body systems are rapidly developing makes them more vulnerable to microwave exposures. Devra Davis of the Environmental Health Trust reminds us that this information is scientifically accepted. She also lead research *confirming that because children’s skulls are thinner and tissues of a child’s head, including the bone marrow and the eye, absorb significantly more energy than those in an adult head.
With our little ones on their devices so much, a great way to protect them is by turning off the WiFI and wiring up their devices to ethernet cables. Not sure how to do that? Check out my Wire Up Kit with everything you need to get started wiring up your home.
6) Keep their laptops off their laps!
Even with no Wifi or Bluetooth connection, there are magnetic EMFs oozing from it. Best to keep it on the desk, wired to a free-standing monitor and keyboard. If they want to sit on the couch or a chair, put some space between their lap and the laptop with a thick 12″ pillow or lap desk. Using a wired auxiliary keyboard and wired mouse is an excellent idea, so you don’t have to touch your warm mouse-pad with your fingertips. This head emanates two other forms of EMF energy: magnetic and electric. Make their stationary laptop set-up as comfy as you can so you aren’t tempted to break away and use your computer wirelessly.
7) Protect their privacy while learning and playing
There are many things you can do to protect their privacy online. Two fundamental but essential options are a Webcam Cover and a VPN. It’s incredible, but computer camera hacking is a very real and often used cyber-hack. It’s easily preventable by simply covering your camera. I love these Creep Blockers because you kids will think they are fun and they make you smile, and they even come with reusable covers for my laptop microphones. I like to keep my kids' online activity private from microphone hackers as well. And finally, a Virtual Private Network serves as a temporary IP address and allows them to browse the internet without websites knowing their exact location. My favorite right now is Proton VPN because their entire line of products is designed specifically for privacy protection online.
8) Think about your child's online learning time holistically.
Make sure they are getting a nice balance of offline and online time. Kids benefit from being with YOU and being out in the sunshine. I found this handy Digital Guide on Dr. Taz' website, you can get it for free, just by giving her your email.
A FEW OTHER TINGS TO CONSIDER FOR HEALTHY ONLINE LEARNING FOR YOUR KIDS - BLUE LIGHT, TECH NECK, AND TECH VISION.
Blue Light And Your Kid's Eyes
Protection from digital blue light is SO important for our little ones. Research has shown that not only can it effect their healthy sleep patterns but their vision as well! You can watch the video for more information or get the science-backed details here.
The most important fact is that when your eyes are exposed to blue light-any blue light, your brain signal your body to stop the release of melatonin. Melatonin is what regulates our circadian rhythms and signal our bodies to sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that all of us power off devices at least two hours before bed. For me and my family, we simply put on blue blocking glasses as soon as the sun sets. Blue light stimulates cortisol production which can be important to wake up our minds, but not good when we go into relaxation mode. Check out the most adorable blue light blocking glasses made especially to fit kids little faces!
- We love the fashionable Izipizi Kids Blocking collection! At $42, they're designed for comfort and style. The comfortable rubber frames are light and almost bendable and the clear lens is certified to block 40% of the harmful blue light.
- We also have a less fashionable but very functional version for just $10.99 light Amber glasses provide a full panoramic view and offers a solid 75% protection.
- We recommend children wear them whenever they're looking a screens or playing computer games.
Blue Light is naturally occurring, but with digital--we're just exposed to way too much of it, even in the daytime hours. Its like we're outside in bright light 16 hours a day—which is why we also recommend an Anti Blue Light Screen Protector which blocks some of the light—at all times. Check our Blue Light Blocking section for Screen Protectors and Adult Blue Light Blocking Glasses.— These block 96% of Blue Light.
Screen Time For Kids Is A Fact Of Life But Sore Shoulders and Headaches Shouldn't Be
When You Look Down At Your Phone, Your Head Goes Too!
That head of yours weighs a lot! An average of 10 to 11 pounds if you're an adult. No wonder you're so smart!
But, when you hang your head as your scroll that feed or send that long text to your friend because you haven’t talked in age, all that weight is taxing your neck and your body and it can cause a nasty headache. Dr. Gordon Grannis see’s more and more of this condition in his practice,
CALLED TECH NECK OR TEXT-NECK, THIS CONDITION HURTS
“The hanging of the head due to working and looking down at our devices causes not only lines across the neck, but soreness and tightness, headaches that start in the neck and run up over the back, top of the skull and to the forehead; known as “tension headaches.”
Avoid tech or text neck by placing your phone in stand
Holy Mollay it all makes sense now. You begin to notice those stupid little lines and stretch your neck. Guess I have been looking down for too long…dang it. Dr. Grannis goes on to explain that "This eventually stretches the muscles of the upper back and neck, causing them to reflexively tighten; resulting in the compression of joints in the neck, and ultimately the nerves in the upper neck that travel up over the skull which produces a tension headache.”
Let’s be mindful because this simple everyday habit of looking down at our phones truly takes a physical toll and avoid tech-neck.
Of course, we've always got you here at Tech Wellness. Here’s the tech-neck solutions from the good doctor:
- Raise your device to a level that allows your head to be in a neutral position.
- Additionally, take 10-15 minute breaks each hour to get up and move around, allowing the muscles to loosen and relax. This will not make immediate relief but will do you a favor in long-term prevention and potential over-use arthritis of the neck.
- Going off that, you may want to consider a timer to help remind set and keep a neck and vision friendly cycle of smartphone activity. You can set up time to scroll and text and time to relax and stretch. Brilliant!
That lovely luminous digital light and that exciting feed and those teeny tiny little comments on Tik Tox that make you hold your phone up so close to your face so you can see that funny thing someone said--are just two of the tech-culprits that can affect your eyesight.
With 28% of American Adults saying "I'm online almost constantly,"
TECH VISION IS AN ISSUE MOVING TO THE FOREFRONT.
We're looking at digital screens sooo much, that, of course, our eye health has to also be affected sooo much. According to Nielsen’s Q2 2017 Total Audience Report, generally, American adults consume about 76 hours of content per week via screens. My eyes hurt just thinking about it.
And I'm not alone. The Vision Council says 80% of American adults report using digital devices for more than two hours per day with 59% report experiencing symptoms of digital eye strain.
Tech vision is a catch-all term for how computers, screens, smartphones and bright TV's can damage or change the health of your eyes. It includes
- Digital Eye Strain
- Macular Degeneration and Cancer
- Blue Light
We'll cover what each condition is and give you a step by step plan to conquer or avoid all of them.
During a recent eye exam with an ophthalmologist — my first eye exam since grade school - lucky me - I found out I had started to develop near-sightedness or myopia, as it’s medically termed.
Myopia means that close objects look clear but things that are farther away look blurry.
THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SAYS MYOPIA IS A GLOBAL PRIORITY
Myopia is trending and it actually has been increasing in recent decades right along with the increase in the use of smartphones and other technology in our lives.
In fact, it is one of the five ocular conditions that are considered an immediate priority by the World Health Organization's Global Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness.
Physically, myopia occurs if the eyeball is too long or the cornea (the clear front cover of the eye) is too curved. This structure means that the light entering the eye isn't being focused correctly. For kids, this means the white board at school can look blurry and so can the other side of the playground.
GENETICS, HIGHER EDUCATION, URBANIZATION, NEAR WORK AND MYOPIA
While the exact cause of myopia isn’t clear, there is significant evidence that a big factor might be genetics A study of 31,677 participants revealed that if parents have myopia, there’s a significant positive association that their child will develop myopia and it’s even more so for kids who have two parents with myopia.
And research has shown that higher levels of education and urbanization have both been associated with people with myopia. It's important to note that even though the tendency to develop myopia can be genetic, whether or not you actually develop it could be affected by how you use your eyes.
The latest study shows that kids who spent considerable time reading, working at a computer, or doing other intense, close visual work, were likely to develop myopia.
OVER A QUARTER OF KIDS DEVELOPED MYOPIA OVER A 4 YEAR PERIOD
The study followed 2,000 seven to twelve year olds over a four year period looking at how kids spent time reading, doing school work and working or playing games on computers. They found that just over 27% of the kids in the study became nearsighted.
Why? Well the study concluded that kids were more likely to get myopia if their schedules included two or more hours of cram schooling or coaching. Cram schools are basically intense prep schools where kids are in school longer and doing more work so they can get ahead and train for higher levels of academic excellence.
CRAM SCHOOL, A PROBABLE CAUSE OF MYOPIA WAS ASSOCIATED WITH MYOPIA AS WELL AS TWO OTHER POSSIBLE CULPRITS: NEAR WORK AND LESS TIME OUTDOORS.
There are many studies that show a connection between near work and lack of outdoor activity to myopia.
Near work or close work:
It's looking at things up close. Reading is near work. Holding the phone up close to your face is near work. It turns out that the more near work you engage in, the higher the odds of getting nearsightedness or myopia.
My ophthalmologist did a near work demo for me which I've duplicated in the video here. Check it out. It really does hurt if you concentrate on how your eyes feel when they go from a comfortable gaze to a near work stare referred to as 'accommodation'.
Clinical journals say eye accommodation is actually a change in the shape of your eye lens resulting from the action of the cilia muscle on the annular fibers. As I understand it, to put it in simpler language, it's kind of going towards the appearance and the feel of "crossed-eyes".
Here are three studies that make the near-work-nearsightedness connection:
- The Sydney Myopia Study reported that near work such as close reading distance and continuous reading, separately, increased the odds of having myopia
- In 2013, French et al., reported on children in the Sydney Adolescent Vascular and Eye Study and noted that children who became myopic performed significantly more near work
- A systematic review discovered that near-work activities were related with a higher incidence of myopia and that the odds of developing myopia increased by 2% for every one diopter-hour more of weekly near work.
Wondering what a diopter-hour is? Me too. In relation to myopia and near work studies, a diopter-hour is a unit of measurement that determines the distance someone must be from a text to read it.
A few things you can do to avoid eye strain:
Watching Your Phone On A Stand
Use A Stylus And It's Even Better!