I was riding on the airport tram the other day, when I noticed a mom with a two and four-year old. Both had smart phones in their hands and were completely unaware of what was going on around them. They were engrossed in their phones and had them practically in their faces.
The mom was just staring into space. She probably wasn’t thinking about how those screens were affecting her children’s eyesight.
Recently, a study by British researchers found that children and young adults are becoming “screen sighted,” or what we call nearsighted.
Since smart phones were launched in 1997, there has been a 35% increase in nearsightedness, thought to be related to the small screens and eye strain of viewing over time. Apparently, holding a cell phone 8 inches from your eyes versus the 16 inches used to view magazines and newspapers is creating vision problems. Over time, smart phone use can also create headaches and eye strain, so limited time on these devices is needed by all.
The biggest concern of course is that constant use of a smart phone takes away from the child’s face-to-face interactions needed for emotional development. Excessive screen time is the problem. The biblical advice of moderation in all things applies to technology use.
In this case, the mom could have engaged both kids in the fun of riding the tram, pointing out all the cool things you can see and feel as the train sped down the track.
The best advice is not to hand a cell phone to a toddler in order to occupy his or her time. Instead, interact with the child, tell imaginative stories, act out a story, engage in creative play, or provide a toy that can be manipulated with interaction—all better ways to stimulate healthy development.