According to the Sleep Foundation, blue light does have a negative impact on your child’s development.
Children these days are frequent users of digital devices and technology. So much so that a study released in 2015 showed that TVs make up around 60% of a child’s screen viewing and 45% of 12-13-year olds have a TV in their bedroom. TVs contain huge amounts of blue light which has been found to cause a whole host of potential health issues.
A second study came out in 2017, again in Australia that showed a third of preschool children and two thirds of primary school children owed a smartphone or tablet. Not to mention the shocking statistic that 100% of teenagers own a smart phone!
Average screen time for children is around 6 hours a day on average. This screen time ranges from watching the TV, playing video games, education and homework. 85% of parents of children under the age of 6 openly admit to given their child LED back lit digital devices to keep them entertained.
These digital devices have become more readily available as the years have gone by meaning that today in 2020 we can come to the assumption that these shocking statistics have risen, putting our children more at risk to blue light that eve before.
Digital devices aside, the evolution of energy efficient LED light bulbs that contain huge amount of blue light and also flicker are only adding to the health issues blue light could be causing.
Are Children More At Risk From Blue Light Than Adults?
The answer is unfortunately, yes. According to the AOA children may be at higher risk of blue light retinal damage than adults. A maturing lens in a child absorbs less short-wavelength light than an adult’s lens. This allows more damaging blue light to reach the child’s retina. These issues only seem to be present from isolated artificial blue light and no issues have been seen in children from exposure to blue light from the sun, a natural blue light source. During the day, excessive screen time for children could lead to issues like digital eyestrain or headaches.
After sunset, blue light exposure stimulates the blue light sensitive ganglion cell photoreceptors that regulate our circadian rhythms (our sleep/wake cycles). Again, according to the AOA this could mean that if your child is using their digital devices or watching TV in the evening they will be disrupting their sleep. According to Harvard Health this can lead to metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease later in life.
Known Health Effects of Blue Light On Children
Sleep is essential for growth, repair and memory. Lack of sleep can lead to shortened attention spans and learning difficulties. Blue light exposure from artificial sources after sunset can impair melatonin production and send signals to your body clock to stay awake. Sources of blue light can be obvious, like from your smartphone, computer and TV. But blue light is also found in less obvious places like your fridge light, appliances, modem and house lighting.
According to one study, when exposed to blue light after sunset, children experience 100% more melatonin suppression than an adult under the same blue light. Younger children are even more sensitive to blue light than their teen peers according to another study.
Screen time after sunset is not the only blue light impacting sleep. According to a study conducted in Norway, teenagers who were exposed to blue light from digital devices during the day were more likely to suffer poor sleep compared to those who had no screen time during the day.
Mental health issues such as anxiety, chronic stress and depression have been on the rise in children over the last decade. This has correlated with the increase in and availability of digital devices which emit blue light.
There are a lot of studies that show a link between smartphone use after sunset and mental health.
Blue light exposure after sunset is disrupting our children’s sleep which is causing a decline in their mental health. This coupled with the pressures of social media and the impact blue light is having on cortisol levels is a potential recipe for disaster.
Poor sleep has been linked to cognitive function and reduced learning capacity. Poor sleep which is bought about by excessive exposure to blue light could be holding your child back from reaching their potential at school.
Exposure to blue light may also be changing your child’s brain. Children who spend more than a few hours using digital devices have been shown to consistently score lower on tests.
Even more shocking, children under the age of 4 years old who spend more than 2 hours on digital devices have an 800% increase in the risks associated with suffering from ADHA.
As we have touched upon, the AOA has shown that more blue light passes through a child’s lens and reaches the retina than in a adult. This leaves children more vulnerable to digital eyestrain. More can be read about digital eyestrain from this blog.
If your child is struggling with sore and tired eyes, blurred vision or headaches they may have digital eyestrain which is caused by blue light from excessive screen time. Blue light and the fact that this light flickers causes the eyes to work extra hard, which places strain on them. Studies have also shown that lots of screen time, lack of time outdoors under natural light and fluorescent lighting all increases rates of near sightedness in children.
Obesity and Weight Gain
Harvard Health has shown a strong correlation between blue light exposure and weight gain in both children and adults. Numerous other peer reviewed academic studies and clinical trials has shown that children who use more digital devices, watch more TV and are exposed to lots of blue light during the day and before bedtime have higher BMIs.
How to Reduce Your Child’s Blue Light Exposure
You have probably read the first part of this article and now feel a little shocked and concerned. But its not all bad news, its actually very easy to manage blue light exposure your children are getting with a few simple tips. This way you don’t have to take away their precious digital devices, which is great for stress free parenting!
Wear Blue Light Glasses After Sunset
We know that all blue light glasses are not created equal. We have to make sure we get the best blue light glasses for our children to ensure optimal health. Read more about how to test blue light glasses here and if you are new to blue light glasses click here to read about how to choose the best blue light glasses.
After sunset its imperative your child wears blue light glasses that filter 100% of blue and most green light between 400-550nm. These will be a deep amber/red lens and are worn 2-3 hours before your child’s bedtime. They can then continue to use their digital devices. Invest in a pair of the best blue light glasses to ensure they get the best sleep and stop blue light from suppressing their melatonin levels.
Wear Computer Glasses During The Day
Computer glasses are essential for filtering blue light that is passing through your child’s lens and hitting the retina. Computer glasses differ from blue light glasses as they have a clear lens and reduce down blue light, not block it. Blue light during the day is essential for health and keeping a healthy circadian rhythm but too much can lead to digital eyestrain. If you child is using digital devices at school then you should invest in a pair of the best computer glasses to protect their eyes and learning.
Change The Lighting In Your Home
After sunset the standard LED lighting you have in your home is packed full of blue light. This blue light disrupts both you and your child’s circadian rhythm and disrupts sleep. By using low blue light bulbs and zero blue light bulbs you can protect your child’s eyes from sleep destroying blue light. Make sure you use the Lumi Sleep+ light bulbs in lamps after sunset and the Lumi SummerGlo light bulbs in your ceiling ad wall lights for during the day. These light bulbs are bright enough to see and do not impact your body clock and mess with your sleep. These light bulbs also do not flicker which means less digital eyestrain.
Keep Your Child’s Bedroom Pitch Black
Sleep improves the darker your bedroom. When you child goes to bed make sure the room is devoid of any blue light sources. If they are scared of the dark then you can use a 100% black out sleep mask that can help your child sleep better.
Restrict Screen Time
This is hard to do during the day as our children now learn through digital devices. Blue light aside though stimulating the brain before bed is bad for sleep. Both parent and child should power down their digital devices 1 our before bed in order to activate the parasympathetic nervous systems and prepare us for sleep. Reading under a Lumi Light bulb is a great way to spend the last hour before bedtime.
It is very clear that blue light not only impacts your child, blue light has more of an impact of your child’s health than adults. By following the plans laid out in this article you can safely manage blue light exposure in children. This will result in improvements in sleep, behaviours and learning in no time at all. For more information on blue light and to purchase your child the best blue light blocking glasses, low blue light bulbs and 100% black out sleep mask visit www.blublox.com
BLUblox are Australia made under optics lab conditions, no cheap imports here!