Lockdown screen time

Lockdown screen time

Here’s a little guide for technology screen time for your little ones (and you)…

Increased screen times for children has been inevitable during Lockdown and is set to continue, with home schooling being on the radar for the foreseeable future.

As an Optometrist I am ‘anti’ too much screen time due to the fact that it increases myopia (short sightedness) in children, however I am also a human being and mother of a P1 and P3, therefore I know exactly what a struggle this current situation is: using google classroom, games, Zoom, and for the older children social media, such as TikTok, Snapchat, etc….

So, I am not here to preach but here to advise you on the safest and best ways to aid your child through increased screen use during Covid-19. (All of these rules also apply to adults too, so this just may make your home office a nicer and more productive environment)

Digital Eyestrain

Optical fatigue appears in many guises:

  • Eye strain
  • Headaches
  • Optical migraines – visual disturbances like swirling or wavy lines, kaleidoscopic patterns, transient losses in part of your vision
  • Red, sore, uncomfortable eyes
  • Pain on eye movements

To help minimise optical fatigue and slow the progression of myopia, apply these 3 handy hints:

  1. Take regular breaks from reading (the 20/20/20 rule )
  2. Don’t hold reading material or screens too close (the elbow rule)
  3. Try to limit leisure screen time to two hours per day in school aged children

Take a Break

THE 20/20/20 RULE – take a break every 20 minutes for 20 seconds and look at an object 20m away.

If this is not possible, take a break and look out into the distance at least every 45 minutes. This will reduce the demand on the focussing muscles, reducing eye and general fatigue.

Position of the screens

Often the evil is not the screen itself but how closely it is held, follow the elbow rule:

THE ELBOW RULE –  where your child should try to keep an elbow-to-wrist distance between anything they are viewing up close, and their eyes. This should ideally be at least 20cm from their eyes. (TV screens should ideally be positioned 3m away)

Home schooling set up

  • Do not have a window directly in front or behind your child’s computer screen or device. Do not let them sit directly below a light source.
  • Try not to have any lighting on their desk at eye level.
  • Set their screen so they are looking slightly down on the text, this is a more natural reading position for the eyes and will prevent increased tear evaporation, which leads to dry eye.

Optimal ‘Settings’ on their devices

  • Brightness- Adjust the brightness of the display so it’s approximately the same as the brightness as their surrounding background.
  • Text size and contrast- Adjust the text size and contrast for comfort, especially when reading or composing long documents. Usually, black print on a white background is the best combination for comfort.
  • Colour temperature – Blue light is short-wavelength visible light that is associated with more eye strain.

Their devices they may have an inbuilt blue light filter if not, reducing the colour temperature of your display lowers the amount of blue light emitted, this will allow for better long-term viewing comfort.

Blue light filters on glasses can reduce eye strain and help regulate sleep patterns disrupted by blue light from devices so these are worth considering the next time your child requires their glasses updated but firstly I would suggest making all of the adjustments above and if your child still has symptoms it would be worth considering.


I see many blue light filter glasses advertised on social media and the internet, please be careful that they are provided by a UK registered company as this is the only way to ensure that they are regulated and are genuine!

Get Outdoors

Last but by no means least get outdoors, natural light has been proven to slow down the progression of myopia as well as makes us all so much happier, dump those devices and the school work and go play!!

Applying these handy hints above will make your child’s device use safer and more comfortable, like all our muscles after exercise, eyes also require a recovery period.

If you have any further concerns please do not hesitate to contact us and as soon as Face to Face examinations are allowed, we look forward to welcoming all children for that all important eye examination.

Leith – 0131 5535358

North Berwick – 01620 893007