I’m blessed, and simultaneously cursed, with a voracious reader. My daughter loves books. If she gets a pile of them on Monday, somehow by Wednesday she is ready for more. Until recently, I was begrudgingly fine with this, so long as she made heavy use of the library, second-hand books, and returned them to the shelves on her own.
Lately, however, she has been complaining about her eyes bothering her. Since this didn’t seem to go away after a week, I took her to an optometrist at Beijing United Family Hospital. The short version of the visit is that my kid is reading too often for too long and needs to take more reading breaks. The doctor’s recommendation was that kids should take a break from reading, homework, or any close up activity after 30 minutes and do something that requires them to look into the distance. The doctor suggested going outside to play or at least look out the window for a while (a while equaling 20-30 minutes). The worst thing the optometrist said kids could do for their eyesight is to use tablets or mobile devices.
Full disclose, although my daughter and I reviewed educational apps for kids, we decided over a year ago to restrict all screen time to two hours a week and only on the weekend. That was due to reading studies on the negative impact of mobile devices on the cognitive development in children. Now I find out that hand-held screens cause kids to focus too intently on things close up (much like reading books and doing homework) and may lead to near-sightedness.
Consequently, we are all paying more attention to how much girl-child is reading and making sure she takes reading breaks more often. Fortunately, she loves spring and is always eager to go outside and play. I just need to make sure she isn’t sneaking out with a book under her arm. I chalk it up to the catchall in parenting advice – moderation in all things. Even the good stuff.
Photo: abbamouse (flickr)