Blue light from screens is harmful to eyesight, especially for the youngest children: their eye lens is much more sensitive to the harmful rays of this light, which leads to multiple disorders as well as permanent damage to the retina (and therefore to vision) unless unless they wear blue light glasses.
In addition to the risks normally associated with exposure to blue light (migraine, visual fatigue, AMD, etc.), other dangers are increasingly being highlighted among young people.
Children's exposure to blue light from computer screens, a social and public health problem
Naturally, it is impossible to argue with the fact that digital technology (through its tools) has significant positive effects for children, specifically by improving the acquisition of knowledge and skills. If schools continue their digital transformation, it is also because computer and digital tools contribute to the development of thought and social integration of children and teenagers, while providing new teaching methods.
However, one thing is clear: when used too much or incorrectly, screens can be a real health hazard at any age, but even more so for children. Parents, teachers and relatives should therefore proceed with caution. LED backlighting on so many screens is at fault here, because of its blue light emissions.
Screen-based learning at school, iPad games at home, cartoons, video games... screens are now an intrinsic part of our children's lives.
The harmful side effects of screens on children
The ANSES (French National Health Agency), followed by other organisations and institutions, warns against excessive exposure to screens from an early age.
Sleep problems, attention disorders and other problems
First of all, excessive screen-viewing could be responsible for memory, sleep, attention and, of course, eyesight disorders. It is no coincidence that the number of children who have to wear glasses at an ever-younger age is constantly increasing.
Fatigue, eye strain, sleep disorders... the problems linked to blue light from screens are even worse for children than for adults.
At the end of 2020, at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology conference in Paris, several recent studies provided new findings. They highlight the link between blue light from screens and sleep disorders leading to attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) in small children.
Long-term vision damage
As children's eye lenses are still developing, they do not fully function as filters until they are 10 years old. Blue light can penetrate to the retina and damage the eye and vision over the long term. This seems to be a serious threat, and it is, which is why it is important to reduce screen time and/or protect yourself, as risk increases as exposure increases.
Various solutions to protect children from the threats of blue light and screens
The 3-6-9-12 rule of psychiatrist Serge Tisseron
Serge Tisseron is a French psychiatrist who founded the 3-6-9-12 association and the rule of the same name. Its objective is to protect children from the dangers of screens and to teach them to guide and protect themselves.
What is this rule? It’s simple:
Before 3 years old, no television
Before 6 years old, no game console
Before 9 years old, no internet
Before 12 years old, no internet alone
A child who respects these limits already has a good start and avoids some of the dangers associated with screens. But of course, this is not enough.
6 tips to reduce the impact of blue light on children
In addition to the more general measures already mentioned, there are a number of actions that can also limit the day-to-day dangers:
Ensure that children keep a safe distance from screens: at least 3 metres from a television and 60 cm from a computer or tablet
Take a break from the screen every 20 minutes
Lowering the brightness of screens until white becomes grey
Apply blue light filters to screens
Avoid screens at least 2 hours before bedtime
A final solution, more effective but less obvious at first glance, is to protect children's eyes with appropriate blue-light glasses.
In order to protect children from screen blue light and its damaging effects, solutions exist and are mostly accessible. Reducing the use of screens, making better use of them, equipping oneself before being exposed to them... the most effective solution is still to increase the number of solutions to maximise the positive effects.