You might have heard the term blue light before. Well, the sun, as well as our screens, emit blue light.
Blue light from the sun can positively affect our children’s health by helping our children with skin care, refreshing their minds, and adapting them to seasonal changes.
But too much blue light from screens can negatively affect our children’s health and cause eyestrain, vision damage, sleep disorders, and headaches.
So, in this article, we’ll focus more on the effects of blue light on children’s eyesight and how to protect your children’s health.
What is Blue Light?
Blue light (or high-energy visible light) is a type of light in the light spectrum that people can see. Blue light comes from two very different sources:
- Natural source of blue light emitted from the sun;
- Artificial source of blue light emitted from LED TVs, tablet screens, computer monitors, smartphones, and fluorescent lights;
The blue light from the sun or sunlight positively affects children’s growth, eye development, and vision and regulates children’s natural wake and sleep cycle.
But, exposure to blue light from screens can cause several health problems, mostly regarding eyesight, which we’ll cover in the following part of the article.
How Does Blue Light Affect Children’s Eyesight?
Studies by UC Davis Health state that children’s constant exposure to blue light, especially from artificial sources, can damage their retina cells and cause vision problems.
That is because children’s eyes let a lot more blue light pass through their eyes than adults. And children also use tech a lot more than adults. Symptoms of blue light exposure are:
- Constant and persistent headaches;
- Burning, sore, and tired eyes;
- Blurred vision;
- Focus problems;
Emitted blue light can cause serious eye diseases over time, so that’s why setting rules and boundaries regarding screen time is crucial if you want to keep your children healthy.
Blue Light and Sleep
There is a strong relationship between blue light and the sleep-wake cycle, also known as circadian rhythm. Studies show that blue light from screens before bedtime hurts children’s ability to fall asleep. But why is that so?
When children go to bed after an intense day, they feel sleepy, and their brain produces the hormone of sleep called melatonin. But if children are exposed to blue light from their smartphones before bedtime, the brain can be confused, tricked by blue light, and think it’s daytime, ultimately not releasing the sleep hormone.
Also, blue light negatively affects children’s sleep quality and duration, which leads to bad physical and cognitive performance the next day.
So, we see that a high level of blue light exposure before bed affects children’s sleep routine by disturbing the body’s rhythm and tricking the brain.
Reducing Blue Light Exposure
The best way to reduce blue light exposure is for your children to spend less time on smartphones and other blue light emitters, especially at night. You can also try some strategies that can help you to reduce blue light exposure at home:
- Install screen blue light filters on children’s smartphones;
- Install blue light-blocking software;
- Buy blue light-blocking glasses for your children;
- Use low blue light bulbs;
Blue light filters are used for blocking the blue light emitted from tech devices. Blue light filters do this by either reflecting or absorbing the blue light.
One of the methods that can train your child’s eye and lower the effects of blue light is the 20/20/20 rule. Eye care professionals recommended this rule which states that every 20 minutes, children should take 20-second breaks and focus their eyes on something 20 feet away.
Blue Light and Screen Time
There is a tight link between blue light exposure and screen time. Studies show that children can spend up to 9 hours on their tech devices.
Increased screen time also means increased exposure to blue light. So, as we already mentioned, the more your children use tech, the greater the chances of them developing vision problems.
Excessive usage of tech devices can cause eye strain, headaches, long-term vision problems, and a whole set of other physical health problems, such as posture problems, back pain, obesity, etc.
That is why parents must keep in mind the time their children spend on tech devices. Setting up healthy screen time limits from the moment you give your children a device is a must in today’s digital world. And don’t forget to set yourself as an example and model your children should follow and look up to.
Protecting Children’s Eyesight
Just like you teach your children to brush their teeth, shower, and wash their hands, you must teach them the importance of keeping their eyes safe.
Educate children on the topic of vision problems caused by excessive screen time usage and emphasize the necessity to set healthy screen time habits.
Also, you can organize neighborhood educational groups or contact your children’s school administration about the awareness of eye health.
Last, but not least, make sure to regularly take your children to eye exams and contact medical professionals if your child has vision problems.
Blue Light and Learning
As we already said, blue light can have a negative impact on children’s focus and concentration. Your children can be distracted and display lower academic performances if they’re constantly exposed to blue light.
The best way to minimize the effect of blue light on learning is by taking away your children’s devices when they study. Also, make a household rule that no family members can use a device until they finish their chores.
We are surrounded by blue light. The sun, tech devices, and lamps emit this type of light. But constant exposure to blue light can cause health problems in your children, especially vision problems.
So, it’s important to raise awareness about the risks of blue light exposure and the importance of keeping the eye safe and healthy.
What are the symptoms of blue light exposure?
The symptoms of blue light exposure are lack of sleep, lowered concentration, forgetfulness, and headaches.
How can I reduce my child’s exposure to blue light?
You can reduce your child’s exposure to blue light by setting strict rules and boundaries regarding screen time.
How often should my child have an eye exam?
Your child should have a regular eye exam every two years.
Can blue light affect my child’s academic performance?
Yes, your children can lose their focus and be distracted by blue light from screens, which ultimately negatively affects their academic performance.