The summer is here, kids are out of school, and routines often fall to the wayside as parents are challenged to constantly keep their children engaged, entertained and happy with all of these endless days off. Ideally these days will be spent with children playing outside, moving their bodies or doing something educational, but now more than ever iPads, cell-phones, Fortnight and Netflix are all at our disposal 24/7. With that, it is inevitable that your child’s device use will increase this summer when everyone needs a much needed break from each other.
Often screen-time and device use gets a bad-wrap, but with a few tweaks to summer-time device use you can make the most out of the time your child spends on them! Here are a few tips:
1. Protect their eyes
This is by far the most important change to make. It is known that the blue-light emitted from our computers, tablets and phones affects sleep cycles, can cause eye-strain, and can potentially lead to permanent damage to the eyes. Our children are more susceptible to these harmful effects because they have been exposed to these devices at a younger age and at a greater rate of usage than any generation before them.
The best way to protect their developing eyes? Blue-light blocking technology, such as GUNNAR Cruz glasses. These spectacles are specifically designed for young adolescents and teenagers that have the benefits of reduced blue-light exposure, without affecting the development of their focusing systems. Check out more information here.
2. Make it productive
No YouTube zombies that just watch pointless videos this summer! The educational opportunities are endless with so many apps and programs available at your fingertips. Did your child struggle with math this year? There is definitely a fun app for working on quick calculations. How about phonetics? One for that too!
My background is in the development of good visual skills (not just being able to see 20/20!), so I always encourage my patients to try and utilize their devices to build their visual skills such as visual memory, tracking skills, figure/ground identification form constancy and visual motor skills. Your kids will think they are just playing games, buttheyare really working on how their eyes gather and process vision!
Here are few of my favorites:
- Highlights Hidden Picture (free 30 day trial then $3.99/month)
- Dexteria Dots/ Dexteria Dots 2 ($2.99 each)
- Word Search Puzzles (free)
- Series 3 (full version $2.99)
- Spot It!–Spot the Color Shade and Different Letter (free)
- Simon Says (free) Number Sequencing ($4.99)
- 100! Block Puzzle (free)
- Tetris (free)
- Doodle Fit Lite (free)
- Dexteria Visual Motor Integration Skills ($3.99)
- Snake (free)
3. Set Reasonable Time Limits
The key to life is learning finding balance and this applies to screen time as well. The American Pediatric Association has strict guidelines for device use in children under 2 years ago, but older than this the recommendations are less clear.
A good rule of thumb is to aim for no more than 2 hrs-4hrs/day and no use of devices for at least an hour before bedtime. Additionally to try and eliminate eye-strain, follow the “20-20-20” rule that states for every 20 minutes of screen time, take a 20 second break, looking at something 20 away.
At the end of the day, the summertime is meant for relaxing, learning something new and exploring different opportunities and our devices can help achieve all of those thing.