SCREEN TIME: 8,541 Sunshine Coast children spend more than four hours a day on screens.
SCREEN TIME: 8,541 Sunshine Coast children spend more than four hours a day on screens.

The shocking amount of time our kids are spending on screens

A LOCAL optometrist is raising awareness of children's eye health after new research revealed most Sunshine Coast children are spending more than double the amount of recommended time on screens.

The Kids Eye Health Study prepared for SpecSavers by YouGov Galaxy reports that Queensland children spend an average of 2.6 hours on screens each day, with 8541 children on the Sunshine Coast spending more than four hours.

SpecSavers Nambour optometrist David Sutton said extended use of screens could have negative impacts on eye health.

"Staring at screens and being indoors for extended periods of time can increase the risk of myopia or becoming shortsighted," he said.

"This means the eyes focus well only on close objects, while more distant objects appear blurred.

"Children are more at risk of this, as their eyes are still developing.

The data also revealed Queensland children were spending most of their screen time at home in the lounge (73 per cent) or their bedroom (48 per cent), compared with school/day care (15 per cent).

The alarming usage of screens caused 55 per cent of Queensland parents to worry about possible health concerns - 65 per cent of whom believed it was bad for their child's eyes.

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But Mr Sutton said it was not just the screens that should be of concern.

"It's no surprise that 90 per cent of Queensland parents say digital screen time is top of the list for their children's health concerns," he said.

"But what is surprising for many is that when it comes to eye health, the biggest problem with screen time is nothing to do with the actual screens.

"It's simply the fact that normally when kids are on screens like phones and computers, there is a lot of near vision work that is often indoors without natural light.

"That's the part that's bad for your eyes.

"So other near vision, inside work like homework and reading can have a similar negative effect on the eye.

"The biggest message I would like to get across to parents is to make sure their children spend time outside playing and if parents are worried about the impacts of screen time on their child's eye health, the best thing to do is to book in to see an optometrist for an eye test.

"Anything from running around the garden to helping mum and dad with errands could have a huge benefit for the eyes."


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