The coming school year is gearing up as a year of many firsts and adjustments for both parents and kids. Primarily because it seems that a major part of the year will be held online instead of the typical face-to-face classroom setup.
Aside from internet connectivity, gadget availability, and other school-related concerns, it seems that parents are also concerned about how spending that much time in front of the computer could impact kids’ health. Such as buying blue light glasses to minimize the risks of blue light exposure from screens on kids’ eyes. But what exactly are the risks associated with blue light and are blue light glasses effective?
What is blue light?
Blue light is the little light emitting from digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It is just one of many on the light spectrum and falls between the visible and non-visible light. Visible light is made of an array of colors and is beneficial for our eyes. On the other hand, non-visible light, which consists mainly of UV light, is considered to be harmful to our eyes. And blue light sits in the middle of both.
Blue light is usually blamed for kids’ headaches, eye strain, inability to fall asleep at night, and even tiredness.
You should also note that aside from digital devices, blue light also occurs naturally in our environment from the sun. It can also be found in LED or fluorescent lighting. So if we do think about it, we are exposed to blue light most of the time.
How can blue light affect our kids’ health?
Natural blue light is beneficial and can help tell both kids and adults alike when to wake up and sleep. It can help boost our moods and boost our attentiveness.
So what is the problem with blue light?
The problem with blue light is that it can disrupt our sleep and circadian rhythms. Alertness is OK during the day, but since we still get blue light from our devices’ screens at nighttime, too much of it can then affect our and our kids’ sleep, which can then adversely affect our health. Here’s how blue light affects our sleep:
- Research shows that blue light suppresses melatonin for more than twice as long as other visible light wavelengths, and as such can change circadian rhythms by twice the degree. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates circadian rhythms (the natural cycle of physical, mental, and behavior changes that the body goes through in a 24-hour cycle) and is also necessary for sleep.
- A room that’s rich in blue wavelength light can also suppress melatonin.
- Blue light exposure can shorten sleep time and lead to more awakenings during the night, which means less refreshing sleep and more fatigued the following day.
- A study has also found that blue light can possibly lead to a higher risk for eye diseases such as cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
What can parents do?
If your child already wears eyeglasses, then you can opt for a pair that has a blue light filtering coating to decrease exposure. If your child doesn’t, then you can also consider letting him use a non-graded one with a blue light filter.
However, it is also important to note that these blue light filters in glasses will absorb most of the light but will not block the wavelength completely. Hence, it’s OK if you don’t want to buy those glasses (or if he doesn’t want to wear them).
It’s more important to practice proper screen time management. Since kids will be required to spend a few hours each day online and in front of their tablets or computers, you can consider cutting back from screens around 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. If he needs to use an electronic device at night, ensure that the device is set in a nighttime setting to help diminish the emissions.