Just when children sitting in front of a screen all day started to sound normal, a study by the researchers at the University of Leicester showed that children nowadays use several screens at once.
Using two or more digital devices at the same time also known as ‘screen stacking’ has become an increasingly common habit in UK children. Once the school in the UK ended, the studies found that most children are spending their evenings and weekends looking at up to 4 screens at once.
The study also reflected on the implications of this habit and its effect on children’s eye health later on. Health experts say that this habit is only adding to the inactive lifestyle most people are leading these days.
Screen stacking in the UK
A recent study by the University of Leicester included 816 UK girls aged between the age of 11 to 14 years found 59% of them were using two screens or more at once after school. However, this number reached 65% during the evening.
Some of the participants also said that they use as many as four screens at once. Thus, digital screens have become an important yet concerning part of these young people’s lives.
The research also found the link between high screen time and loss of sleep in that study. While sleep loss and lack of physical activity are some of the temporary concerns due to high screen time, this habit can lead to diabetes or obesity if not controlled timely.
This is why health experts in the UK advise you to check your child’s total screen time during the day and make sure their eyes are not exposed to more than 1 screen at one time. Parents must also take protective measures against screen time. For example, encouraging their kids to use blue light blocking glasses or computer glasses during digital media usage.
Screen stacking during the weekends
Weekends used to be the time for families to come together and create a stronger bond. But, not anymore. Children and even adults are so engrossed in their devices these days that their screen time also doubles up during the weekends.
This reminds us that we are creating a generation of sedentary children. There are definitely negative effects if children using multiple screens at once. Here they are:
Digital eye strain
While staring at one screen for long hours is enough to make you feel digital eye strain, using several devices at once brings the pain faster.
Digital eye strain refers to a set of visual symptoms such as eye pain, blurry vision and dry eyes. As the screens we use emit artificial blue light, your eyes have to battle against low visual contrast and work even harder to cut through the visual noise.
This is why experts advise using blue light glasses and limit your screen time to avoid this problem. These glasses have an anti-blue light coating on the lenses that filter out blue waves and protect your eyes.
This coating cannot be added to the lenses after the glasses are made. If you already use prescription glasses, then you’ll need glasses lens replacement to get blue light lenses for your frame.
Dry eye is one of the most common problems one can develop after a long screen session. As screens are pretty difficult on your eyes, your peepers have to focus harder and forget to blink in the process.
Blinking more and lubricating your eyes with artificial drops and tears is the best way to avoid dry eye problems. Use a warm compress to stimulate your lacrimal glands and produce more tears.
Not only this, but certain studies have also suggested that prolonged screen time for long hours could lead to nearsightedness or myopia in children. While we can’t say how true is that, using digital devices for long hours is not healthy for your kids or you even.
If your child has suddenly started to complain about vision problems, take them to an eye doctor and get their eyes checked. You can even get next day delivery for glasses from online eyewear stores in the UK.
Loss of sleep
In the study, it was also found that kids using two or more screens in the evening lack activeness and had shorter sleep spells compared to children who don’t use any screen.
Blue light is also said to have a negative impact on your sleep. When you indulge in screen time in the evening or during the late hours, the blue waves blocks a hormone called ‘melatonin’ that triggers sleep in your body. Thus, using your devices late at night could result in poor sleep or even insomnia.
If you want to encourage your children to adopt a safe and healthy digital lifestyle, you must watch over their screen time and how many devices they have access to at once.