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Limiting digital screen time
Posted 7 May 2018
As portable technology spells the end for the desktop computer, we grow more and more accustomed to watching our children do their homework hunched over an iPad or balancing a laptop on their knees.
It is a troubling development says The Physio Clinic’s Ben Corso, who treats many teenagers for back and neck pain exacerbated by the prolonged use of portable devices.
“Bad sitting for any length of time can adversely affect the posture of our kids, particularly during the early teen growth spurt periods when their bones are growing faster than their muscles,” the Adelaide physiotherapist says.
“These days, children are sitting in worse positions and for a lot longer than they used to,” he says.
But it’s not just their necks and backs that are at risk. Over use of digital devices such as computers, laptops, tablets and phones can cause Digital Eye Strain (DES) on top of the neck and back strain, with after working on devices for prolonged periods of time.
DES symptoms include discomfort, heaviness, blurred vision and headaches, and unfortunately the number of people being diagnosed with DES is on the rise.
Tips to protect the eyes
From Health Partners Optometrist Cliff Kam
- Review your child’s workstation and ensure screens are at least one arm length to fingertips away and position iPads, tablets and mobile phones, no closer than elbow distance.
- Reduce screen time by having them take regular breaks. It’s also beneficial to have them switch off their digital devices at least one hour before bed.
- Blue lens coatings can help reduce the harshness and glare of screen lighting, so it’s softer and easier on your eyes. Health Partners can also recommend the best lens design that suits your specific workspace set up, needs and tasks.
- Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 metres away for 20 seconds and blink 20 times. This ensures the eyes are given a well-deserved break.
Tips to improve posture
From The Physio Clinic’s Ben Corso
- Make sure your child is sitting in a supportive chair and teach them to sit up straight, have their shoulders back and feet flat on the floor.
- If using a laptop or desktop computer ensure your child’s desk, chair and device are appropriately sized and aligned.
- If your child is experiencing or complaining of pain due to these potential reasons, it is best to have them checked before symptoms develop ongoing
- Encourage your child to spend shorter periods of time gaming or changing positions regularly – such as having rest/stretch breaks or walking around the house every 20-30 minutes.
Seek help from a professional if your child complains of regular headaches or spinal pain.