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Expert Tips and Tools For Kids Safe Screentime. The Guide To Sleep, Eyesight, EMF and Healthy Children
It's pretty clear--Just about every kid will be doing at least some of their school work on devices this fall--Let's make it as healthy as possible.
It's a lot. Online Learning, Regular School Work, Keeping Up With Social Media, Connecting With Friends. And it's all going on through the reflected blue glow of those digital screens.
Back To School Means Back To Screens
Here's What This Guide Covers:
- Schedule The Amount of Screen Time In Relation To Sleep.
- How to Set up Screen Time for healthier kids
- Importance of scheduling breaks
- Monitoring screen brightness
- Why You Should Kill WiFi & wire up for no EMF's and faster speed
- Keeping laptop off of laps
- Protecting online privacy
- Using glasses and filters to reduce the amounts of blue light
- Preventing Tech Neck
- Setting up a proper space to learn and communicate online
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 becomes 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 Screen time must be balanced with a Good Nights SLEEP
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.
For Kids, It's All About 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.
Setup Technology To Make Online Learning Time The Healthiest For Kids' Bodies and Minds.
Now that most kids are doing all of their learning online and from home, it's super important that we set up a physical space for healthy online learning.
Make sure you give your kids the best possible environment to allow them to feel good and focus.
The Best Online Learning Setup :
Tip 1) Keep the Screen At least one foot away from their eyes and body to help prevent near- sightedness
A larger computer monitor, may be a good idea- you can put it further away allowing you to distance the screen from your child's eyes. This is important because a recent 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. No matter how large the screen, be it a Chromebook or laptop, the further you can be from it, while still be able to easily read it, the better.
Tip 2) Position Screen For Maximum Eye Relaxation
The top of the monitor should be even with the top of your child's eyes. Raise the screen and Angle Back the 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!
Tip 3) Watch Your Child's Head Position To Prevent Tech Neck
Did you know that an average 12 year's old head weighs 7 pounds?! That’s quite a load for those neck muscles that are still developing—especially when they’re little eyes gaze downward to a laptop or tablet- the head moves forward too and the shoulder and neck muscles bear the shifting load causing "tension headaches". Commonly seen as what is called a" tech neck" issue, they start in the neck and run up over the back, top of the skull and to the forehead
Prevent Tech Neck: Raise devices-including laptops and tablets to a level that allows heads to be in a neutral position.
Online Time Posture Tool: The Device Stand.
Avoid tech or text neck by placing the phone in a stand and adjusting the screen height on devices.
Tip 4) Help Your Child Avoid Eye Strain, Tired Eyes and Tech Neck Strain Schedule Frequent Breaks.
I'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 why not loosen those shoulders and reduce neck tension by extending break 5 to 10 minute breaks each hour to get up and move around. Going outside can be even more helpful as several recent epidemiological studies suggest that more time spent outdoors might actually protect against the development and progression of myopia.
Top Online learning Tool :simple and colorful timer to help kids keep track of their screen time!
5) Online Learning Tool: Optimal Screen Brightness
Limit Eye Tension By Adjusting the Light Levels on Screen
Adjust the computer screen brightness to the brightness of the light level in the room. If the light is too bright in the room, the screen is more difficult to see and can look washed out. If the room is dark, the screen can seem too bright and cause your child's eyes lots of stress. Adjust the screen either on your keyboard or by going to System Preferences or Settings and then click on Screen. We also recommend utilizing Night Shift or a software like Flux that will adjust the screen to warmer tones by hour or at anytime.
6) Online Learning Supply Essential: Blue Light Blockers
Block the Blue Light At Least 2 hours Before Bed
All screens emit blue digital light. Blue light the evening and at night effects your child's sleep because it blocks the release of melatonin. Melatonin, as many who take supplements know, helps you sleep by signaling the body and regulating sleep cycles.
Block Some Of The Constant Blue Light All Of The Time: With Glasses and Blue Light Screen Protectors
And although blue light is naturally occurring, with devices, we're all exposed to way too much of it, even in the daytime hours. Its like we're outside in bright light 16 hours a day—New research also points to the fact that blue light may be connected to anxiety and that young adults who wore blue light blocking glasses slept better and longer than those who didn't. That's why we also recommend Anti Blue Light Screen Protectors which block some of the light—at all times.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that all of us power off devices at least two hours before bed- see the science-backed details here. 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!
7) Online Tool: 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.
8) Online Learning Health Tip: 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.
9) Online Learning Privacy Tool: Protect Their Privacy While Their On Their Computers, Tablets and Laptops
We just received a newly-released survey on how COVID-19 has impacted children’s at-home screen time and parents' concerns around cyber safety. Conducted in partnership with The Harris Poll, Norton interviewed more than 1,000 U.S. parents of children ages 5-17 for the study.
Sharing a few standout findings here:
- About 50% of parents have abandoned some, if not all, of their previous rules for screen time
- 7 in 10 parents say their child’s screen time has skyrocketed amid COVID-19
- 66% parents are concerned their child is revealing their location online
We're super happy to see parent are concerned--so are we! There are many things you can do to protect their privacy online. Two fundamental but essential options
- Webcam Cover and if possible on your device- a Microphone cover. 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 the Creep Blockers can block microphones on some computers too!
- VPN or 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.
- If you do choose Norton VPN, from the link to the survey please CHANGE THE NAME on the account --even Norton recommends that you do! The name given during the initial setup to the computer on which the Software is used by NortonLifeLock as an account name for such computer under which you may elect to receive additional services or under which you may use certain features of the Software. You may change the account name at any time after installation of the Software (recommended).
- Change the Name of Your WiFi and the WiFi password.
- Change the Name on The Device Your Child is Using- or the Airdrop name. -This is really important IF the laptop or tablet or phone they're using is your address--or their name or your family name. I've personally heard of stalkers finding and calling or contacting children by pulling up in front of the home and looking for a Bluetooth or hotspot connection and then seeing the "name" of the device that just happened to be the name of the person living there. The Tech Wellness recommendation is to always be as stealth as possible.
10) Online School Set Up- A Work Space For Less Distraction and More Focus Makes It Easier To Learn
Take an inventory of the work station set up.
- The chair should be comfortable and supportive
- A variation of standing and sitting helps with focus and body tension
- The space should be well lit and incorporate natural elements- like a natural breeze or natural light whenever possible
- Some kids work better with background music or sound, others are distracted by it. Find what works best for your child and incorporate it into their learning space.
11) Online School Class Time Tip: Make It Distraction Free
Did you know that research has shown that having our phones in view, in the room -even when they're turned off- takes up to 35% of our cognition! So help your child, no matter what age to keep their focus on the task at hand. Make sure they're not looking at their phones, or social or email while they're in "class." Research has shown that having our phones in view when were attempting to learn or do any task can be incredibly distracting take up our limited cognitive space.
Everyone smiles and glows when they receive Affirmations- Especially Your Children- This pack of 15 Love and Affirmation Notecards
12) Online School Tip: Have Them Breathe A Sigh Of Deeper Comprehension
Brand new research has isolated the sigh- yep breathing deeply and then again followed by a long exhale-can add to comprehension when reading from a digital screen.
You may already know, that some research has shown that if we want the best chances of really understanding we're reading we should read it off of a printed page vs the screen. A 2018 study found, "the results of the two meta-analyses in the present study yield a clear picture of screen inferiority, with lower reading comprehension outcomes for digital texts compared to printed texts, which corroborates and extends previous research (Kong et al., 2018; Singer & Alexander, 2017b; Wang et al., 2007).
The studies made it clear, but the scientists were never exactly sure why reading a screen made it harder to comprehend.
Was it because we're accustomed to "shallow work" when we're online vs when we're in a book? Or was it possibly. . .
- the fact that the text was on a screen
- The blue light,
- The scrolling
- The concept that a words on a printed page stay in one place, so it's easier to keep track of where your are.
2022 Research took a look at both brain activity and breathing as they dove deeper into the cause of why people retain more from a book then a screen. They compared reading from a smartphone and reading from a book and found that what was missing was a sigh.
Lots of sigh, lots of them in fact.
In their conclusion, they say it may be beneficial to take slow deep breaths while reading since sighs, whether voluntary or involuntary, regulate disordered breathing. he relationships among visual environment, respiration/brain activities.
So step in every few minutes and encourage your child to breathe in deeply and let it go- like a sigh.
13) Online School Tip: Help Them Be Intentional With Their Online Communication-
Many schools are having kids Zoom or meet up online during class time for questions and social time. Here's a few online communication tips for kids.
- Position the viewing window of the class as close to the camera as possible so your kids eye contact will be as close to the camera as possible.
- Make sure the room is quiet while your child's audio is on
- Let your child know that even if they're not talking, they can still be seen so they may want to stay engaged in the conversation.
- Non verbal head nods and smiles are great online communication tools when lots of people are trying to talk at once
Finally, try for a nice balance of offline and online time. Kids benefit from being with YOU and being out in the sunshine. .
- We love the fashionable Izipizi Kids Blue Light 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.