Symmetry Blog

Screen time - is it really that bad?

Symmetry Physio - Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Is too much screen time really that detrimental to our kids?

Screen time - Is it really that bad?

Time and time again we are reminded to limit our screen time, especially in children. In our previous blog about physical activity in children (Physical Activity in Children), we discussed the recommended screen time in children and adolescents, which many of us may be guilty of exceeding almost double the recommended amount!

But really, what is the big deal? Is too much screen time really that detrimental to our kids? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. Here are a few reasons that may make you reconsider using iPads or TV as regular entertainment options for your kids.

  1. Screen time is passive time. Every hour your child spends in front of a screen is an hour they are not spending being physically active, engaging in creative play or socialising with other children. These activities are important growth and development
  2. Whilst digital eye strain is temporary, it is something you want to avoid. Spending too much time staring at screens can result in sore eyes and headaches. There is also recent evidence emerging that long term, excessive exposure to blue light emitted from screens could potentially cause retina damage.
  3. Blue light affects your body’s natural circadian rhythms and can interrupt sleep patterns if exposed too close to bedtime. Avoid children reading or playing with iPads close to bedtime, or teenagers scrolling on their phone or watching tv on their laptop right before bed.
  4. Most importantly screen time can encourage poor posture and excess strain on your child’s growing spine, neck and back muscles. Make sure when your children or teenager are using the computer they are sitting at a table with a supportive chair. Invest in an iPad stand to avoid children holding them in their lap and constantly looking down, or use a pillow under the forearms. Avoid using laptops, iPads, and phones for long periods whilst sitting up in bed.

Technology and screens are a necessary part of life, and with more schools turning to laptops and increasing use of technology in the classroom, some screen time is unavoidable. However, to avoid postural and eye strain goes by the 20-20 rule: take a 20-second break every 20min.

If your child has been complaining of neck pain, back pain or headaches when sitting or working on the computer, book an appointment with one of our friendly physiotherapists who will assess your child’s spine and be able to offer recommendations specific to your child’s needs.  

The Team at Symmetry Physiotherapy.

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