Summer is in Full Swing – But the Kids Are Still at Home
The sun is shining strong, and the heat is on! However, the global pandemic is keeping many kids at home this summer. As the days of vacation seem to get longer and longer, how can you keep children happy, healthy, and safe at home?
Sheba’s experts share tips on how to plan nourishing food for the upcoming school year, how to balance your child’s sleeping and waking hours, and how long is too long for children to spend sitting each day?
To help you keep your kids entertained, we’ve also attached some fun ideas for activities and games. Every week, “Sheba Kids” releases a column and activities. Check out our weekly tips for worthwhile summer experiences and the best ways to prepare for the upcoming school year.
Is it dangerous that your kids are always staring at a screen?
Nowadays, it’s common to find most children plugged in, staring at a screen for hours on end. Unfortunately, there are health consequences to spending too much time in front of a computer or smartphone. Sheba experts discuss how much screen time is too much, and how you can safeguard children against the hazards of a digital lifestyle.
According to the Tanuda Center, the Gartner Institute’s national knowledge center for the health effects of non-ionizing radiation, using screens can lead to the following complications:
Studies have shown that looking at screens before bedtime can negatively affect sleep duration and quality, directly impacting your ability to stay awake the next day. All digital screens emit blue light, which can impair the body’s production of melatonin (“the sleep hormone”). Additionally, using computers and phones before sleep can stimulate your body and mind, thereby pushing off your bedtime.
While studies on the matter have been largely inconclusive, the World Health Organization defined the non-ionizing radiation emitted from cellphones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Keep in mind that radiation decreases significantly as the distance from the source of radiation increases, and cellphones are positioned in very close proximity to the face.
Any time people use a screen, they are generally sitting – which leads to decreased physical activity. Also, it’s common to eat while gazing at a screen, pulling focus away from the food. As a result, the quantity and quality of food suffers. Sedentary activity and poor eating habits have been associated with a variety of health problems in adults and children.
Staring at a screen, which is a close object, has led to a significant increase in the rate of people suffering from myopia (nearsightedness) and dry eye syndrome. It is likely that focusing for a long time on something that is near affects the eye’s ability to efficiently switch focus from near to afar. Also, people tend to blink less when looking at a screen, leading to dry eye syndrome.
Research has shown that excessive use of digital media can lead to digital addiction. Since 2018, the WHO has included addiction to computer games on their list of diseases.
Using a cellphone while driving – or even while walking and crossing the street – can be very distracting, significantly raising the risks of a road accident.
How to Maximize Screen Time Safety
Limiting screen time is considered the best way to protect against the possible health complications. The WHO advises that young children up to two years old should not be given any screen time, and kids aged 2-5 years should be allowed up to one hour a day. In general, screen time should be permitted by age, screens should always be avoided in social/family gatherings, all digital tech should be turned off about one hour before bedtime, screens should be removed from all bedrooms, and most importantly – screen time during the day should be replaced with social and physical activity!
Additional safety recommendations include:
- Avoid using phones in an area without reception, such as elevators
- Avoid using your phone while driving and crossing the street
- Distance yourself at least 30cm from digital devices
- Follow the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes, look away from the screen towards an object 20 feet (6 meters) away for 20 seconds
- Use a wired headset or speaker
Kid’s Activity: Make a Colorful Volcano
- Place two cups on a tray
- Fill one cup halfway with water
- Add a tablespoon of baking soda, a few drops of food coloring, and a teaspoon of dish soap; mix well
- Add 1/3 cup of vinegar to the second cup
- All at once, pour the vinegar into the first cup – enjoy a colorful, active volcano!
Why does this happen?
Vinegar is an acidic substance and baking soda is a basic substance. Together they form the so-called “acid-base reaction,” also known as a neutralization reaction.