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How to protect kids from digital eye strain during pandemic

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 12:57 PM CDT
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(CNN) – Digital eye strain was an issue before COVID-19, but now it’s a bigger one, with some kids spending more time on their devices and learning virtually.

Eye strain, headaches, double vision and sleep disruption are short-term side effects of screen time.

But there are some ways parents can help kids adjust their eyes.

The “20-20-20 rule” can help. After every 20 minutes of screen time, kids can look away from the screen at least 20 feet for 20 seconds.

It will allow children to adapt their eyes to an environment with technology, said Dr. David Hunter, chair of ophthalmology at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“That simulates more of what happens in a normal classroom or a normal office environment, is you’re looking around, you’re taking a break, you’re not just locked in during lockdown on this screen,” Hunter said.

He suggests that children practice good sitting posture by not slumping.

Other ways to ease digital eye strain are adjusting screen and room lighting, and by turning off self-view.

“We also want the screen to be positioned not too close because that can put demands on the convergence of the eyes,” Hunter said.

Parents can reduce their kids’ screen time by setting timers and encouraging them to take breaks for other activities, like playing outdoors. They can also model healthy behavior while using electronic devices.

If problems persist with children’s eyes, parents are encouraged to make an appointment with an ophthalmologist.

Copyright 2020 CNN. All rights reserved.

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