Children under the age of 10 will have spent an estimated 63 hours playing on a smartphone or tablet during the summer holidays, research by Optical Express has reported. This figure equates to two and a half full days over the six-week holiday period.
According to the new research, which was published by the multiple earlier this month, children in Northern Ireland spent the most time playing on smartphones and tablets – averaging two hours a day – with children in South West England spending the least, at an average of one hour a day.
A fifth of the 2000 parents surveyed admitted giving their child a device so that they could have a lie in, while the same amount of parents also claimed that they needed to keep them occupied while doing chores and errands.
Sharing the findings of the OnePoll survey, Optical Express highlighted that four in 10 parents (39%) blamed the washout weather for the device use, despite them confessing to spending 27% more time outdoors during their childhood summers, whatever the weather.
Six in 10 respondents claimed that their kids used screens for educational reasons, and one fifth said they gave in when their children ‘demanded’ the devices.
When quizzed about what age their children began using devices, 19% said their child was aged four, but for 10% they started at age two and 5% started as young as one.
Reflecting on the survey’s findings, Optical Express spokesperson, Noelle Hamilton, highlighted that there are a number of eye health issues associated with using digital screens.
Ms Hamilton explained: “Your blink rate, which is usually about 15–20 times per minute, can reduce by up to half when you are closely focussing on a screen, which can cause dry spots and blurred vision.”
“Natural light is also important for a healthy eye’s development, as well as allowing for the eye to focus on a variety of near and far distances,” she added, referring to the reduced amount of time that children spend outside when they are on devices.
While studies have shown that children who spend more than three hours a day playing outside are less likely to suffer from myopia, more than one in five parents surveyed has a child who is short sighted, according to the new research by Optical Express.
Image credit: Flickr/Gerald Madula