Stop Digital Eye Strain in the Virtual Classroom
August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, and that means it’s time to get serious about protecting your student’s vision. With the increase in the use of electronics, many children experience today’s most pervasive threat: digital eye strain.
We’ve all experienced it—tired, dry eyes, blurry vision, headaches, and neck aches. And all it takes is a couple hours of continuous use of electronics. Also known as computer vision syndrome, digital eye strain can affect everyone who uses not just computers but also TVs, smartphones, tablets, gaming systems, and more. The problem for virtual students is that they may spend more time using computers during school than students at brick-and-mortar schools, so they’re more likely to experience digital eye strain.
But even virtual students don’t spend all day on the computer—they have time to read, do learning activities, take breaks, and get involved in extracurriculars. There are also a lot of ways you can help your student avoid digital eye strain in the long run. Parents and Learning Coaches can try these techniques, too!
To start with basic tips on preventing digital eye strain, check out these eye-friendly computer tips for virtual school families. Then read on for a list of changes you and your student can make to the virtual classroom so you may practice safe vision habits.
How to Create an Eye-Friendly Virtual Classroom
The first step is to evaluate the virtual classroom. There are many simple adjustments you can make, such as:
- Keep the room’s lighting dimmer than the computer screen to reduce glare and make it easier for your eyes to see the screen.
- Turn down the brightness and turn up the contrast of the screen settings.
- Check the distance between the screen and your student’s eyes while he or she is sitting. It should be between 20″ and 30″ away.
- Adjust the screen so that there’s no tilt, and position it so the top is just below eye level.
- Make sure the computer screen is set at a high resolution.
- Download an app that adjusts the color settings if your student ever does any schoolwork or web browsing during the evening. The blue light wavelengths emitted by digital screens stimulate melatonin production, which can keep you up if you use the computer too close to bedtime. For laptops and desktop computers, f.lux will automatically adjust the color settings to reduce the blue wavelengths. It also has a mobile app for Apple devices, while Android has similar apps such as Twilight and Lux Lite.
The Rules of Digital Eye Safety
The next step is to help your student form good eye safety habits. Try posting this list of digital eye safety rules in the classroom as a reminder.
- Create an eye-friendly schedule. Break up the time spent on the computer during the school day by fitting in activities such as reading, exercising, or eating lunch.
- Set time limits for recreational use of digital devices. This can help minimize digital distractions during the day and prevent digital eye strain during the evenings and weekends.
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen for 20 seconds at something 20 feet away. If you have trouble remembering to take a break, try an app such as ProtectYourVision or Workrave that will remind you with automatic alerts.
- Zoom in when the text is too small. On the web, you can do this by adjusting the settings of your web browser or by using the browser’s shortcut keys.
- Clean the computer screen at least once a week. This will keep it clear by eliminating dust.
- Sit in an ergonomic position at the computer. This means feet are flat on the floor, lower back is supported, shoulders are relaxed, and arms are at a right angle so forearms rest on the keyboard in a straight, level line.
- Always take a break if needed. Regardless of the day’s schedule, fit in a break if using the computer starts to feel uncomfortable.
- Avoid digital devices before bed. Install an app to fix this problem on computers or mobile devices; otherwise, put the devices away within an hour or two of going to sleep.
Keep an eye on your student’s vision both in and out of the virtual classroom to make sure he or she maintains healthy eyesight.
If you have any suggestions for promoting eye safety, let us know!