Screen-time is causing headaches. Literally.

The bad news? There’s clear evidence that excessive screen time is a leading cause of eyestrain and headache in young people. The good news? There’s a lot you can do to prevent it.

With most of the nation’s children homebound, screen-time is also reaching pandemic proportions. And that’s completely understandable. Between online learning, self-isolation and social distancing, our kids are inevitably spending more time with their devices (and so are we!).

That sudden increase presents a whole raft of safety and wellbeing concerns - and the effect on children’s eyes is among the most serious. 

Here's what you can do to protect them from screen-related eyestrain and the headaches that may be causing. 

20-20-20 Rule

Preventing “focusing fatigue” is your aim here. Whatever device your child is on - including TV - make sure they take a 20-second break every 20 minutes by focusing on an object 20 feet away. To make that less of a burden for both of you - try limiting them to 30-minute videos, episodes or gaming sessions. If they pass this limit, simply interrupt them with an errand, some conversation or a snack. 

Let there be light

Proper lighting can really reduce eye strain. Try to find that Goldilocks level - not too bright and not too dim - to prevent glare and squinting. Experts say when we are on a computer, the ambient light (that is, the light that surrounds us) should be about half as bright as typical office lighting. 

shutterstock_1617286393Avoid overhead lighting - especially fluorescents - and if possible, position the screen so windows are to the side, not in front of or behind it.

Adjust display settings

Adjusting the brightness, text size and contrast and colour temperature can also reduce eye-strain and headaches. Here’s what vision experts recommend:

Brightness should be at about the same level as our offline workstation. As a test, look at the white background of this page. Does it look like a light source? Then it’s too bright. Does it seem dull and gray? It’s probably too dark. 

Text size and contrast are easy to adjust on most displays, whether it’s a laptop or an e-reader or tablet. This is especially important now when our kids are spending more time reading online than ever before.

Colour temperature sounds like another virus symptom - but in fact refers to the wavelength of the various colours on the spectrum. As most of us know by now, blue light is the short wavelength emitted by screens which can cause problems with sleep and eye strain.

You can help prevent these issues by lowering the color temperature on your display toward longer wavelength colours like orange and red. It’s almost too obvious to say - but we’ll say it anyway.

It’s almost too obvious to say - but we’ll say it anyway. Now more than ever it’s essential to put clear boundaries around your family’s use of screens. 

Blink and you’ll miss it

Did you know that when staring at a screen, we blink only about a third as often as we normally do? And when we do blink during screen-time, we often only partially close our lids.

This all adds up to dry eyes, as the tears that should be coating our eyes evaporate during non-blinking phases. 


If dry eyes seem to be a problem, you could ask your eye doctor about “artificial tears” for daytime use. But an easier method is simply to add blinking to your 20-20-20 routine. Every 20 minutes, blink 10 times very slowly. 

Use parental controls

It’s almost too obvious to say - but we’ll say it anyway. Now more than ever it’s essential to put clear boundaries around your family’s use of screens. 

Parental controls like Family Zone that empower you to manage every device under your roof - while giving you the flexibility to set different routines for different family members.

Parenting in the Age of Coronavirus presents lots of challenges - but plenty of opportunities too.

Family Zone is here to help, with advice from leading experts and strong, flexible parental controls.

Start your free trial today, and create a home where digital children thrive.



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Topics: Parental Controls, Screen time, Mobile Apps, online safety, eyecare, headache, migraine

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