The Eyes Have It!

Protecting your toddler’s eyes from excessive screen time…

Edward Danyo

By EDWARD DANYO

Covid-19 has had a sweeping impact on learning platforms and the amount of screen time now experienced by toddlers. The “new normal” for toddlers through teens is some measure of time on digital learning platforms, as well as a baby sitting tool for parents who are stretched thin.

On the positive side, technology companies have stepped up to help make some screen time more beneficial through virtual learning. Sites like ABCmouse.com provide an extensive and interactive “pay for” service focused on children from ages 2-8. While the FREE site, e-learningforkids.org have focused on math and science lessons for grades 1 – 6.  Mashable has done a nice job of articulating their favorite learning platforms as well as providing tips on how to select the best option for your child. 

On the down side, additional available programming means additional screen time which can lead to eye fatigue, behavioral issues and lack of sleep! The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) in recognizing the behavioral health potential, suggests that “…your child is never too young for a screen-time plan.” In fact, the AACAP suggests that up until 18 months of age, screen time should be limited only to video chatting with family; 18-24 months should be limited to watching educational programming with a caregiver; and ages 2-5, limit non-educational screen time to about an hour a day.

“Your 3-4 year old get no more than 60 minutes of sedentary screen time daily!”

The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the AACAP assertion and agrees that your 3-4 year old get no more than 60 minutes of sedentary screen time daily! However, by today’s standard, 1 hour of sedentary screen time is no easy feat! You’ll need to be creative by using short strategic 10-15 minutes screen time bursts. Additionally the WHO recommends 180 minutes of physical activity to get your child away from the screen and build healthy physical habits early in life. While they may get a bit cranky because they aren’t watching their favorite shows, the activity should allow your child to burn off some energy and may make bedtime a bit easier.

In addition to limiting the screen time during the day, Hush Buddy recommends that you completely eliminate screen time at least 45 minutes prior to bedtime. Blue light devices such as tablets and smart phones limit the amount of melatonin produced, and make it much more difficult for your little one to fall asleep.

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