Parents believe North West toddlers and teens are hooked on tablets, phones and games, says report

Almost half of North West parents believe their kids are hooked on digital devices, claims a new study.

Parents in the region showed concerns about how much time children spend surfing the net, playing on games consoles and texting on smartphones with 44% glued to screens.

And the tech craze has sparked fears that children could suffer Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), even if it is more likely to happen to adults.

“The symptoms of CVS include blurred vision, fatigue, headaches and difficulty focusing,” said a spokesman, who carried out the research.

“In addition, some people experience back, neck and shoulder pain from hunching over to look at small screens and focus on small text.”

Less than half of North West parents kept tabs on their child’s online activity (44%), limited time on digital devices (50%) or monitor their child’s use of digital devices (44%).

Tablets are the top technology for children with 39% already owning their own iPad.

More than a third (38%) of North West kids also own a mobile phone, while nearly a quarter (24%) have already got Facebook.

The most tech-crazy group were 8-10 year-olds who sank the majority of their time into online gaming and were most likely to have an account with 8% owning up to having accounts on the site.

Social media-savvy 8-10 year-olds are also on Facebook with one-in-five reported to have a profile with 41% owning a tablet and 36% owning a mobile phone.

When parents were asked how long their kids spent on a digital device, 40% in each category stated that their kids spent no longer than 1 hour with roughly half that number of people saying that their kids were on a device for any longer.

Although 67% parents believed that felt that between one and two hours every day was reasonable, close to 28% of people said they were ok with their kids spending time on a digital device for between 3 and 4 hours.

However, when asked if they believed that their children spent too much time on a digital device the overall majority of parents (44%) said yes.

Optical expert Rob Hogan, a registered optometrist for over 33 years, provided tips for parents to help keep their kids surfing in safety: take your child for regular eye checks, place a light source behind you when using a computer and always sit at an arms-length distance away from your screen.

In addition, Dr Hogan advised that for every 20 minutes spent staring at a screen, spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away.

“It is important to limit access just before bedtime, as research has found that the background ‘blue-ish’ light typically emitted from these devices can disrupt normal sleep patterns,” Dr Hogan said, on late-night browsing.

“Also, blue light chronically absorbed throughout life is implicated in Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), increasingly found in later life.”

Excessive use of digital devices can also lead to a number of issues, including behavioral problems, attention deficit disorder and eye strain, but these have shown to be very rare.

The most common side-effect of using digital devices for a prolonged amount of time is Digital Eye Strain. This can be caused by children holding the devices improperly, in most cases, too close to their eyes as a result of small text or pixelated images on screen.

Image courtesy of Bea Represa with thanks

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