Research

Optometry Australia backs new ?screen time? guidelines

The 24-Hour Movent Guidelines, developed by experts throughout Australia and in partnership with Canada, outline what a typical day for a baby, toddler or pre-schooler should look like, including advice on screen time, active play, time spent sitting and lying down, and the ideal amount of sleep.OA’s resident optometrist Mr Luke Arundel said the guidelines were a positive step towards reducing the risk of myopia.{{quote-a:r-w:430-I:2-Q:“The guidelines announced yesterday not only support our concerns which relate primarily to eye health, but suggest too much screen time can negatively impact babies and children in a myriad of ways.”-WHO:Luke Arundel, OA’s Resident Optometrist}}“We have long campaigned for parents to consider the balance between ‘screen time’ versus ‘green time’ as part of safeguarding our children’s vision. Australian research predicts an imminent global epidic of myopia, or short-sightedness, which already affects about 30% of the world’s population,” Arundel said.“That figure is expected to rise to 50% by 2050 and researchers believe this is linked to the amount of time children are spending indoors which, in our digital age, very often means more time on screens. The guidelines announced yesterday not only support our concerns which relate primarily to eye health, but suggest too much screen time can negatively impact babies and children in a myriad of ways.”The new guidelines are the result of Australian and Canadian research led by University of Wollongong early childhood expert Professor Tony Okely, who believes screen time while sitting can counteract the health benefits of physical activity. He also says it may lead to language delays, reduced attention, lower levels of school readiness and poorer decision making.“Certainly the fast and quick transitions that we see on screens, the bright flashing lights and the impact that this has on the developing brain, is something we need to be mindful of,” Okely said.According to the Federal Government, the World Health Organisation is considering the guidelines as a framework for its own health advice regarding children under the age of five.More information: 24-Hour Movent Guidelines