One of the most important ways to prevent spread of Covid19 is to stay home (other than essential work/ shopping and exercising) and maintain social distancing. This however has lead to increased screentime (study, work and social interaction) for us and our children.
Many of us are sitting at home doing work from home and supervising our children doing their online schooling as well as supervising their digital social interactions. The harmful blue and violet light from all these devices can disrupt the children’s (and ours) normal circadian rhythm. Prolonged screentime and near work also lead to eyestrain and myopia (shortsightedness) which we have witnessed in the last 3 months.
It is crucial to refrain using digital devices in the last 2 hours before bedtime. It is also important to take regular breaks every 20 minutes as well as keeping good working distance from screen. Average good UV exposure per day of 2 hours is recommended to reduce risk of myopia; and with current restriction in Stage 4 in Victoria we are allowed to have 1 hour exercising outside our home within 5 km. The rest of the 1 hour can be obtained by sitting outside while children have lunch or breaks from online study.
Simple tips during Stage 4 lockdown for eye health:
Increase working distance and ensure regular breaks every 20 minutes
Designate sleep time; pick a regular sleep pattern; most children should be in bed by 8 pm, and no screentime for up to 2 hours before bed; thus in that case no screentime after 6 pm
Encourage extra exercises that they missed as they no longer run around with their friends at school as well as time outdoors within what is allowed with the new restrictions
Create family devices plan; also create restriction in the whole family’s digital time; such that children see that we are also doing the right thing so that compliance is easier
Dedicate a free from screen day once a week; as their school days are packed with online activities, take one weekend day off from screen and encourage sports or outdoor activities that day (and time in the backyard or simply family time with no screen)
Pick up a new hobby or skills; doing family arts together or simply doing puzzles or games in the family can be fun too