As the war against COVID-19 rages on, we may be bidding farewell to time outdoors and hello to more screen time – our children included. But that’s not to say we can’t limit our screen time and prevent myopia from progressing.
Where are your child’s eyes going?
The fight against the recent global health pandemic, COVID-19, rages on. The chief of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has even deemed it as an ‘enemy against humanity‘. As a response, companies have implemented work-from-home programs, schools have closed, and people returning from overseas travel are given mandatory home quarantine notices.
For our children who are just as much affected by this as we are, their daily average screen time is only going to increase. Classes are beginning to migrate online if they haven’t already (e-learning anybody?), finding entertainment to unwind is literally at their fingertips, and communication with their classmates, friends, and teachers are all going to be done via social networking platforms. In fact, according to an analysis done by plano’s Time Machine, average screen time among youths, adults, and children increased by an hour. The world’s largest stay-home mandate implemented to date may have contributed to this increase in screen time as less people are going outdoors, especially our children.
Myopia: an ongoing battle against screens.
It’s an understandable transition, but it’s also important we help our children manage the amount of time they’re spending on the screen. Excessive and prolonged periods of screen time is associated with the progression of myopia. When our eyes are focused on the screens for more than even an hour without a break in between, your eyes are suffering under the weight of a lot of strain and stress.
Moreover, when our children use their devices, they tend to use it at a close distance as well. This causes the eyes to grow and lengthen which is a sign that the eye is losing its flexibility to focus properly unless the object of its focus is nearby. This is a process that causes nearsightedness (myopia) and explains why some children are unable to see far distances.
Therefore, on top of taking care of our child’s overall physical health, let’s not to forget his/her vision health too. We each want the best for our child, so it’s important we help to keep them healthy and strong in all aspects of their health.
Some eye-catching solutions
One of the best ways to mitigate myopia is to go outdoors, but with the current epidemic that we’re living in, it’s nearly impossible. Nearly. There are other ways to help mitigate myopia from progressing in your children without needing to step foot out of your humble abode:
1. Play a good game of eye spy
If your little one is bored at home and wants some quick fun, you could initiate a good ol’ fashioned game of ‘eye spy’. Simply go to the window and look out for a minute or so with our child. Then, pick an object you want you want your child to find, but don’t tell him/her what it is! Simply describe the object starting with the phrase, “I spy with my little eye something _____”. Fill in the blank with a description of that object and wait to see if your little one guesses it correctly.
Looking far and wide into the distance is a good practice for your little one to rest his/her eyes after a long day of staring at the screen, and you can do so just behind your window.
2. Get creative with obstacle courses
Do you have a backyard? If you do, you can consider setting up a simple obstacle course outdoors right in your backyard! You don’t have to go to the park, or to a play arena, you just need to get creative with some household items and with the space you have around you in your backyard, oh and some good weather. You could set up some chairs outside and have your little one crawl underneath them, or you could lay an old mattress down on the grass and have your child roll over it before proceeding on to the next station. The possibilities are endless, so get creative and have some fun in the sun just outside your house. After all, the sun is a great bet against myopia.
And even if you don’t have a backyard, if your living area allows it, you could easily create one for your little one indoors as well! It’ll be a great way to entertain them away from the screens and prevent myopia from progressing. Check out this cool Instagram parent setting up an indoor obstacle course for his baby:
Seeing things in a new light
We’re living in some tumultuous times right now. While we continue to adapt to the current conditions as best we can, let’s not forget to take note of our total screen time as well. We may not be able to go outdoors as easily as we once could, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We are adaptable, flexible, and quick-thinking, so let’s get creative and continue to protect our children from excessive screen time and safeguard their overall health.
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