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The effects of increasing screen time on children’s health

The findings of a recent study suggest that the digital screen time of children have grown dramatically during the pandemic, potentially posing physical health hazards. Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) led the study, which was published in the ‘Journal of School Health’. ARU vision specialists are concerned that this might harm children’s eyesight and overall health, as various disorders have been linked to increased screen use.

Many nations closed their schools due to the Covid-19 outbreak, causing an unprecedented shift to virtual learning. Students were forced to rely on digital gadgets to complete their studies. The review report looked at research studies conducted throughout the world during the pandemic, and the findings indicate a consistent image of children and adolescents spending more time on digital screens.

In Canada, 89 percent of parents reported that their children were playing longer than the two-hour daily limit recommended by health officials. In Germany, daily screen usage has climbed by around an hour. A study in Chile revealed that screen time among toddlers and pre-school children had nearly quadrupled to more than three hours per day, while researchers in Tunisia found that overall screen time for children aged 5-12 had increased by 111 percent.

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Eye strain, unstable binocular vision (using both eyes sufficiently to generate a single visual image), uncorrected refractive error, and dry eyes are among the dangers to eye health connected with the use of digital gadgets.

According to the study, children and teenagers frequently use several devices at the same time, such as browsing social media on one device while watching content on another. Switching between devices causes a 22 percent increase in eye strain because it requires the eyes to adjust to varying distances between gadgets. Increased screen time may cause neck and shoulder pain, as well as increase the amount of time spent sedentary. It is also linked to overeating, which can lead to health problems like obesity.

Lead author Professor Shahina Pardhan, Director of the Vision and Eye Research Unit at ARU, said: ‘It is really important to be aware of the potential risks to children’s short and long-term eye and general health. It is essential that devices are used appropriately and that activities away from digital devices are encouraged, such as playing outdoors’.


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