Online learning means more screen time; that might not be a good thing

Research shows increased screen time may affect not only the psychological wellbeing of children, but also their vision. (File)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Research shows increased screen time may affect not only the psychological wellbeing of children, but also their vision.

Dr. Beau Swann, an optometrist with Brazos Eye Surgery, says it is vital for children to go outside and to spend time off their phones, tablets, and computers to ensure their eyes are developing fully.

“Essentially what you are doing when you are putting a kid at a near target (such as a) cellphone, iPad, or a computer is you are adapting their surroundings to near activity,” Dr. Swann said.

“So what does your human body do? It adapts to see things up close at the sacrifice of not being able to see things in the distance.”

Meanwhile, he says, if children spend adequate time outside they are exposed to farther objects which helps develop the eyes to see things at a distance.

“Their eye will adapt to see the bird that's 200 feet away,” Swann said.

He recommends children be limited to two hours of screen time per day, which may be nearly impossible since online learning has replaced traditional classroom instruction during school shutdowns.

Swann recommends parents make sure children are taking regular breaks and spending time outdoors.

Jim Steyer with Common Sense Media has researched the impact technology and screen time has on children.

Several studies have shown that increased screen time can mean lower psychological wellbeing among children.

Those with higher screen times tend to have higher rates of depression, loneliness and may find it difficult to make friends, studies show.

They may also become less curious and get distracted easily.

Steyers recommendation for parents is to go back to the basics.

“The same balance of moderation--using common sense, getting your kids breaks, getting them outside—those still pertain, but it's tough right now,” Steyers said.