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Hitting pause on screen time

Leaving phones outside the bedroom for a more restful sleep is one recommendation included in new guidance from the UK chief medical officer

14 Feb 2019 by Selina Powell

Was it when selfie stick bans sprung up around famous sites? When family members started messaging between different rooms in the house rather than making the journey down the corridor? When toddlers started tapping a picture book, puzzled when the pages did not automatically turn?

When did we reach peak screen time? Or is it still to come, in some distant future where emojis are an accepted dialect?  

While there is much talk about the danger of small screens becoming a big problem, it seems that the evidence is still a little hazy.

The UK chief medical officer (CMO) highlights research has not yet established a causal link between screen use and mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.

However, taking a precautionary approach, the CMO has produced new advice for parents that suggests screen-free meal times and leaving phones outside the bedroom.

From an eye health perspective, screens are proving contentious because of potential links with dry eye and disrupted sleep.

Perhaps, as with many things, the answer is moderation. The internet is a valuable resource. It provides instant access to a wealth of information.

But I am also a fan of old-fashioned face time. I enjoy sitting down with a newspaper and coffee rather than scrolling through headlines with half an eye on something else.

If you have a favourite low-tech way of relaxing, please get in touch. We are on the lookout for optometrists to profile in our upcoming health and wellbeing edition. From avid knitters to adventurous rock climbers, I look forward to hearing from you. 

Image credit: Getty

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