The New Screen Time Reality

The global pandemic has led to a new reality, prompting the need for remote work and distance learning environments. The pandemic will hopefully soon be a part of our past. However, the flexibility offered by remote work and distance learning will likely be with us for the long run, at least to some degree.

Our kitchens, living and dining rooms are now hubs for work, school and entertainment. And, as we all know, a majority of the work, learning and entertainment takes place on some kind of digital device. It begs the question: How do we preach and enforce digital device time moderation, when we are essentially cut off from the numerous social outlets that existed a year ago?

There are no easy answers. While the “moderation discussion” may be somewhat doable with an adult audience, there are practical limitations dictated by the demands on all of us each day. The conversation with younger kids (5-12) is a tad more straight-forward, however, the requirement for daily Zoom classes dictates an additional 6-7+ hours of screen time for kids, creating its own challenges. The conversation with a teenager is, well, …if you have one, you know how it goes. Let’s just say it’s akin to speaking in a voice that only a dog can hear. The one where your 13-year daughter doesn’t hear you at first, then looks at you as though you are speaking a language she has never heard. This is followed by the disconnect, preceded only by the grunt and eye roll.

Factoring in all of the additional screen time since the emergence of COVID, the best course of action may be moderation where possible, while taking efforts to help protect your family’s eye health. This may include adoption of screen time best practices, along with blue light protection to filter out the most harmful high-energy blue light emitted from digital devices.

While telling a teenager they can’t use their device is a real challenge, setting a couple of agreed upon best practices to help protect their eyes is a solid starting point. The 20-20-20 rule is easily explained and doesn’t require a whole lot of sacrifice. Every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Even a 13-year-old locked into Among Us or Tik Tok can agree to this request.

Lastly, a great solution is to provide blue light protection to help prevent potential eye and health problems. While blue light blocking glasses are an option, they are less than ideal for a number of reasons. Blue light glasses typically err on the side of hammering out the blue light, which leads to a significant impact to screen color quality and luminance, or they don’t do enough to manage the harmful peak blue light, which means they aren’t providing necessary protection. Furthermore, compliance with glasses is less than ideal for adults, and nothing short of dismal with kids. Blue light protection built into an existing device is ideal, but for the millions of devices that don’t offer this feature, a blue light screen filter is a great alternative. When choosing a screen filter, look for one certified to block the peak level blue light between 415-455 nanometers. It is an inexpensive, peace of mind purchase with 100% compliance built-in.

A recent survey related to screen time and exposure to harmful blue light, conducted by UnitedHealthcare and Eyesafe in July 2020, revealed 19 out of every 20 eye doctors surveyed were concerned about blue light and its impact on all of us. While we won’t be reducing our screen time anytime soon, taking preventive measures to help protect our eyes is a sound choice.

Paul Wright SVP Eyesafe

Contributed by Paul Wright, SVP of Sales and Business Development at Eyesafe.

Paul is a successful entrepreneur, sales, marketing and business development professional with over 25 years of international business expertise. He works closely with Eyesafe’s OEM partners, as well as Eyesafe’s branded blue light screen filter business. Prior to joining Eyesafe, Paul spent the last 5 years serving as Director of Global Business Development for Euronet Worldwide and their subsidiary companies (Nasdaq: EEFT).