Impact of TV on Children’s Vision
There’s another silent killer out there, apart from those smartphones you constantly seek to wrest from the grasp of your children.
It’s called The Television.
While you might be successful where it comes to getting your children to strictly adhere to the ‘No Cell Phones During Meals’ rule, what about TV Time? Some parents don’t even know that it makes for the very ‘Screen Time’ they erstwhile thought was limited to iPads and cell phones.
The impact of television on those ‘baby couch potatoes’, is really far more severe than you might have imagined. With more and more time spent in front of screens, the disadvantages of television for children vis a vis their vision, is something all parents need to be wary about.
The Myth Surrounding Watching TV and Spectacles
While the impact of television on children cannot be taken lightly, there are some myths that need to be demystified. Like the following one.
‘If you watch TV too closely you will get a number.’
How many times have parents told that to their kids, in an attempt to get them to stop watching TV?
The truth is, watching too much television will not give you a number. Those refractive errors occur due to variations in size and curvature of the eyeball, and not due to watching too much TV. Note: If your child is struggling to see things, they might just have a number. Take them for an eye checkup as soon as you can!
The Effects of Television on Children’s Vision
The side effects of TV are plenty, but let’s first touch upon how all that screen time can affect children’s eyes.
Dry and Irritated Eyes
With long periods of watching TV, the eyes can get dry and irritated. There are studies that show that people of all ages blink much less when glued in front of a screen. This in turn causes the eyes to dry out. It’s even worse for young children, who have to look up to a screen that’s positioned for adults.
The impact of television on children is severe, because it robs them of the one thing that is especially important to them in their developing years – Sunlight!
As a critical part of their overall development, children need sunlight for healthy eyes. Staying indoors for too long and out of that sunlight, runs the risk of developing nearsightedness (myopia).
The Loss of Focus
Those screens are way too close for comfort, aren’t they?
Children who spend inordinate amounts of time in front of the television, find it difficult to adjust to Distance Vision later on. This is on account of their eyes being focused close-up for long periods of time. Note: This is generally a short-term problem, the eyes returning to their normal flexibility in due time.
Ways to protect your kids’ eyes from screens
The disadvantages of television for children are many. But let’s face it – there’s no way we can simply ‘unplug our TV sets and throw them out of our houses’, right?
There are, however, some things we can do to protect our children from the detrimental effects of watching too much television. Here’s a look at them.
Yes, this one actually encourages little ones to watch more television! Puzzled much?
The thing is, children are most comfortable lying on their bellies and watching their small screens (phones, iPads) from up close.
To do: Encourage your little ones to watch on bigger screens, by casting from their devices to the Television itself!
Those Brightness Settings you adjust on your mobile phone every now and then? Your television has them too!
To do: Eliminate glare by reducing the brightness of that TV. Oh, and you might wish to do the same for all their other devices (computer, phone, iPad) too!
Limit Screen Use
If only it were that simple!
It’s always difficult to get your children to stop doing what they truly enjoy doing. You will find yourself struggling to get them out of the swimming pool – and yes, to stop watching TV, too.
To do: You have to be firm here. There is simply no alternative. Make sure that children who are less than five years old, do not watch TV for more than an hour a day. In the case of kids that are five years and above, 2 hours should serve as the cutoff limit.
Get them Outside
There’s just something about soaking in the warmth of that sunshine, isn’t there?
To do: You must encourage your children to spend more time outdoors, basking in that sunshine they need so desperately. As we have already touched upon, there’s a link between that nearsightedness in children, and them not spending enough time outdoors. Bonus: They will be a lot fitter when they play outside, too!
Harmful Effects of Television on Children
There’s More than Meets the ‘Eye’, when it comes to the harmful effects of TV on children.
- It robs children of precious time. Too much time spent watching TV, means plenty of missed opportunities.
- It kills their creativity. How are kids going to develop their imagination, if they don’t explore the real world?
- It kills their productivity. Children can’t be productive in their academic lives, if all they are doing is watching TV.
- Promotes Negative Behaviour. There is research that shows that watching too much TV can alter brain structure and promote negative behaviour like aggression.
- Emotional Changes. Young children are not old enough to understand issues like substance abuse and sex, in shows they watch. This may affect them psychologically.
- Bingeing on junk food. Who can resist munching on unhealthy things like chips, when watching TV?
At EuroKids, we are not completely against technology. We believe that television can even make Learning fun and engaging for children. That being said, it is crucial for parents to keep in mind the negative effects of watching too much TV on their kids. Starting with their vision, of course.