By Bharat Upadhyay
New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) Since the nationwide lockdown was implemented in India over two months back, parents and children are spending more time on various screens at home which is seriously affecting their health, resulting in eye pain, watery eyes, headaches and less quality sleep time.
From office work to classes online, from streaming movies to playing online games, the social distancing norms have only resulted in a vast majority of Indians suffering from screen-induced stress and health problems, warn health experts. Doctors now advise that in addition to the basic eye exercises, one should also avoid working under dim light, involve in household activities and take a break from looking at a screen every 15-20 minutes.
According to Dr Uma Mallaiah, Senior Consultant, Ophthalmology at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals in New Delhi, prolonged exposure to gadgets can contribute to several eye problems, ranging from dryness, irritation and redness, to grittiness and watering in the eyes and even headache. “The exposure to blue light, radiating from the display screens is the main reason for eye dryness. It is important to reduce the screen time to make sure that the eyes stay healthy and less prone to infections,” Mallaiah told IANS.
Spending more time on screen is also leading to poor sleep, chronic pains in neck and back and vision issues, the health experts said. A recent study, published in the journal Obesity, also revealed that lockdowns implemented across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic have negatively impacted diet, sleep and physical activity among children with obesity.
Sharing his views on kids, who are at home and spending more time on screens and prone to screen addiction, Dr Samir Parikh, Director and Head of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences Department at Fortis Healthcare in New Delhi, said that in the ongoing circumstances, it is important for us as parents to understand the restrictions. “At present they are cooped up within the house, having to rely on the screen for not just their leisure and play, but for both academic classes as well as connecting with family and peers,” Dr Parikh told IANS.
“Therefore, it’s important for parents to avoid restricting the children’s screen time but instead trying to instill a sense of normalcy within their routine. We can create opportunities to stimulate their mind, for instance by encouraging them to pick up some new hobbies, skills or activities,” he explained.
Dr Parikh added that involving in household activities in the form of a fun based activity, participating with children and family can be a good option.”These shall be alternative options for the children to engage with as opposed to only relying on the screen, helping them find moments of meaningfulness and positivity within their daily lives,” he suggested.
According to the health experts, giving too much attention to digital screens weakens the brain’s ability to process information, focus, make decisions and control thoughts. Since the mind and the body of children are still developing, the effects of screen addiction are exacerbated. To maintain the good health of your eyes, Dr Mallaiah shared a few tips: “Keep your computer screen 20 to 24 inches from your eye level, adjust the display settings of your device to reduce eye strain and fatigue, blink frequently to moist the surface of your eyes and avoid working under dim light or in a dark room.”
“Take a break from looking at a screen every 15-20 minutes and close your eyes for a few seconds and eat almonds, walnuts, fish and citrus fruits which are some foods good for your eyes,” she added.
(Bharat Upadhyay can be reached at [email protected])