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Rising Screen Time During COVID Is Hurting Kids’ Health

Increased screen time among children during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a potential risk of health problems ranging from eye issues to back and neck problems and even obesity.

What to know:

  • Children and adolescents often use several devices at once; the practice increases the strain on the eye by 22%.

  • Potential problems include unstable binocular vision as they attempt to adjust between screens, uncorrected refractive error, and dry eyes, as well as neck and shoulder strain; in addition, a sedentary lifestyle may lead to obesity.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic led to the unprecedented shutdown of schools across the globe, causing many students to rely on digital devices to continue with their education.

  • Significant increases in screen time across the globe include a more than double the use of screens by toddler and preschool children in Chile, an 89% increase in Canada, and an unprecedented increase of 111% for children aged 5–12 in Tunisia.

  • The potential risks to children’s short- and long-term eye health and general health underscore the importance of frequent screen breaks as well as activities away from digital devices, such as playing outdoors.

This is a summary of the article, “Risks of Digital Screen Time and Recommendations for Mitigating Adverse Outcomes in Children and Adolescents,” published by Eurekalert on March 11. The full article can be found on eurekalert.org.

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