Generic photo of a baby watching TV kids / television
Generic photo of a baby watching TV kids / television

Northern Rivers kids spend too long on technology

A RECENT survey has revealed most Lismore children are spending more than double the amount of time indoors and on screens than the World Health Organisation recommendation.

The Kids Eye Health Study prepared by YouGov Galaxy for Specsavers last year showed NSW children spend an average of 2.6 hours on screens each day.

Alarmingly the study's data shows 14 per cent, which is equivalent to 933 children in the Lismore area, spend more than four hours on screens.

Specsavers Lismore optometrist Kamaile Shirley said she was "concerned" about the potential damage being done to children's eyesight as a result of prolonged screen exposure.

"I understand how strong the pull of digital screens is for children and I also know that the way children learn and play is drastically changing as technology becomes increasingly incorporated into everyday life," she said.

"But what is surprising for many is that when it comes to eye health, the biggest problem with screen time is nothing to do with the actual screens.

"It's simply the fact that normally when kids are on screens like phones and computers, there is a lot of near vision work that is often indoors without natural light.

"That's the part that's bad for your eyes. So other near vision, inside work like homework and reading can have a similar negative effect on the eye."

Ms Shirley said staring at screens and being indoors for extended periods of time can increase the risk of myopia or becoming shortsighted.

"This means the eyes focus well only on close objects, while more distant objects appear blurred. Children are more at risk of this, as their eyes are still developing," she said.

Ms Shirley said local parents need to make sure their children spend time outside playing.

"If parents are worried about the impacts of screen time on their child's eye health, the best thing to do is to book in to see an optometrist for an eye test," she said.

"The school holidays are the perfect opportunity to encourage healthy eye habits - anything from running around the garden to helping mum and dad with errands could have a huge benefit for the eyes."

The study was conducted online among a representative sample of 1,013 Australian parents with children under the age of 18.