In the 21st century “TV” refers to far more than just television programs; there are now DVDs, video games, streaming services and much more besides. Nor are television sets the only form of screen technology that children are exposed to on a regular basis, with the likes of computers, iPads, smartphones, portable DVD players and other similar devices being equally ubiquitous. The question that has troubled many parents is – is all this screen time actually bad for children? In order for parents to come to a conclusion in regards to this question, there are a number of things that need to be taken into consideration.
Is television good or bad for children?
Television offers an array of programming aimed at children that can be entertaining and educational. However too much of anything can become a problem and television is no exception. Parents should always monitor the television habits of their children and keep in mind some of the potential negatives of watching television for kids. One of the biggest health issues associated with watching too much television is that it is a sedentary activity. In order to grow up healthy and strong children need to engage in exercise and active play and too much television can deprive them of that. Another important touchstone in childhood development is creative play, particularly that involving other kids, and although television programs can be entertaining watching television is essentially a passive activity that discourages imagination and social sharing and cannot engage children to their complete range. Of course many television programs are not meant to be seen by children and would be inappropriate viewing, and parents cannot screen out and filter everything, even with the use of parental controls offered by the majority of devices. Television should never be used as a babysitter, and parents should instead watch age-appropriate shows with their children in moderation, and bond with them by getting involved with what is happening on the program they are both watching.
Can TV hurt children’s vision?
The good news for children and adults alike is that there is no solid evidence that the eyes can be permanently damaged by watching television or using any other device with an electronic screen. However that does not mean that using screens excessively cannot still cause some problems. Excess time spent in front of any screen can result in eye strain and other vision problems, particularly for younger eyes. Everyone should rest their eyes following two hours spent looking at a screen, and during viewing the eyes should look away for a few seconds every so often. It is also a good idea to avoid watching television in complete darkness. The good news is that eye strain and fatigue caused by excess screen time can be corrected with enough rest. There is also no evidence that a child’s vision or general health can be in any way harmed by sitting too close to the television. However if a child sits very close to the television on a regular basis, it could be an indication that they are already experiencing some vision problems. Parents need to keep a close watch on the health of their children’s eyes. In addition to sitting too close to the television regularly, other indications of possible vision problems in children include constantly rubbing their eyes, poor focusing and visual tracking, chronic redness and tearing of the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and abnormal eye movement. Older children with vision problems may also find it difficult to read the blackboard at school, have trouble reading and be unable to see distant objects. Kids should be taken to an optometrist at regular intervals for checkups, as many potentially serious eye disorders can be corrected if caught quickly and issues such as being short-sighted can be alleviated with diagnosis and the easy purchase of online contact lenses or glasses.
Glasses and contact lenses
All children, even babies, can wear contact lenses and glasses. Contact lenses bring with them a number of advantages, including being easier to wear, offering a wider field of view and being less likely to fog up or fall off while also still allowing for the wearing of sunglasses. Parents should allow children who need to wear glasses to choose their own frames, while polycarbonate lenses are the best choice for contacts for the majority of children, particularly those who are active in sports. Polycarbonate is a strong, clear, shatterproof thermoplastic that is used in the construction of light, thin lenses. Older children may decide they would rather have contact lenses than their old glasses for cosmetic reasons in order to improve their appearance as well, and it is vital for any child who wears contact lenses to be fully versed in the correct way to insert and remove them, and how to keep them clean. Problems with contact lenses are almost always the result of poor hygiene and bad habits. Parents can buy contact lenses online or in person from professional outlets.
Dominic is a freelance writer based in Sydney, Australia. He enjoys researching and writing about a variety of topics, with technology and health amongst his favourites. In his spare time you will find him planning his next adventure getaway or exploring nature trails around Australia.
Sydney, NSW, Australia