HMC experts help parents reduce the impact of screen time on children


Doha: With kids spending more time in front of computer screens, tablets and TV, occupational therapy experts at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) offer parents tips and strategies to help reduce long-term damage this can lead to.

The profession of occupational therapist is concerned with a healthy engagement in daily activities and Sultan Salim Hammam Al Abdulla heads the department of HMC.

Research has shown that overuse of digital gadgets can potentially lead to a variety of problems like eye strain, retinal damage, nearsightedness, sleep disturbances, musculoskeletal issues, and behavioral abnormalities.

The American Optometric Association defines digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome as a range of visual and ocular symptoms resulting from prolonged use of digital electronic devices.

Dr Brightlin Nithis of the occupational therapy department said COVID-19 has seen children increasingly exposed to digital devices, including laptops, laptops and smartphones, leading to an unprecedented increase of screen time in children.

“Using a screen can cause children to use a variety of coping strategies, such as squinting to focus more or refusing to blink for long periods of time to deal with visual information. Normally, we will blink up to 17-26 times per minute. But that could be reduced to as low as 3.6-11.6 blinks / minute when using the computer, leading to eye strain, ”he explained.

“Squinting is more common when using a computer to improve focus and control glare. This increases the tension in the eye muscles and can cause eye pain and tired eyes.

The profession of occupational therapy is concerned with healthy engagement in daily activities. At HMC, occupational therapy works across the organization.

Dr Nithis said that optimally the eyes should rest frequently from the screen while using the computer and a 15 minute break is required every two hours of continuous computer use.

“The safety distance for the computer screen is between 45cm and 70cm from the eyes. In addition, the computer screen should be tilted 15-20 degrees below eye level, measured from the center of the screen, ”he said.

“If smartphone screens are used, the distance must be greater than 40 cm. “

Al Abdulla also advises children to follow the 20-20-20 rule when using digital screens. That is, every 20 minutes, look at something as far as 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Additionally, sitting posture when using digital screens is important to prevent the development of any musculoskeletal discomfort such as back pain or neck pain. Therefore, the chairs should be comfortably padded and conform to the shape of the body.

The height of the chair should be adjusted so that the feet are flat on the floor. The arms should be adjusted to provide support when hitting.

If it is necessary to write on a notepad during online lessons, the notepad should be kept approximately the same distance as the screen.

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