How is screen time affecting your vision?

Learn what CVS is and what you can do to help decrease the symptoms.

How many hours a day do you spend looking at a screened piece of technology?

If you are like most of us, your answer could be anywhere between two and ten hours a day. You may or may not be surprised by this number if you work on a computer, own a smartphone or perhaps have a mild addiction to your Xbox, Netflix or Kindle. But have you ever felt a pounding, throbbing or aching feeling in your head after using your device? You may have Computer Vision Syndrome, or more commonly CVS. Computer Vision Syndrome is a term optometrists have given this form of eyestrain for people who look at device screens frequently.

People who look at screened devices all day require their eyes to focus on screen text, which is not as sharp as text found on a piece of paper. We also use our eyes ciliary muscles for extended periods of time to help us focus at short distances. Both of these can lead to eye discomfort and vision strain.

Solutions

One way the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) suggests we combat the symptoms (which fade away after use of the device), is to follow the 20-20-20 rule. The 20-20-20 rule means we should stop staring at our devices every 20 minutes and focus on something else 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds to help give our eye muscles a break and rehydrate our eyes.

Check out the video below from the Ontario Association of Optometrists, created to help digital device users break bad screen habits affecting eye health:

Here are four ways you can help reduce digital eyestrain with links to resources for further reading:

  1. Adjust your Display Settings
  2. User Proper Lighting
  3. Exercise your Eyes
  4. Increase Text Size & Colour

Share your tips below for helping combat eye fatigue from digital device usage; we’d love to learn more tricks!

How Technology and Activity Can Keep You from Technology and Inactivity

You’ve heard all the studies that suggest technology makes you lazy and dumb. What you don’t hear is how to use technology to promote activity both in the mind and body.

I won’t deny that my increased use of technology has at one point, increased my level of inactivity. I was usually on the couch doing my school work or checking my social media accounts instead of going for a walk in the neighbourhood or riding my bike on a nearby bike trail. My new wallet is now my iPhone. Besides having my contact list on there, I also have there, my rewards cards, my GPS app – Waze to get me around and my easy access to all accounts that require a password. Why do I need to remember anything?

Technology has simplified our lives to the point that it can have a negative impact on our health and mind. Our 21st century digital age is not the first time this problem has occurred.  It was first discussed when our society made the shift from the Agrarian society to the Industrial Age. Taking the elevator instead of climbing the stairs or driving your car to the local grocery store instead of riding your bike with the grocery basket on the handlebars. We have always made the adjustment in our activity level with the advancement of technology. The digital age is no different. I will introduce some methods of how the use of technology can help you maintain or even increase your activity level.  We will look at the uses of your laptop and your smartphone.

Laptop Use and Activity Level

It is not always necessary to be sitting at a desk or lying down on your couch working on your laptop. When working on your laptop, set a timer on your PC, to allow you to get up and walk around or stretch every 30 minutes. In my classroom, I have an activity website www.gonoodle.com that I have the kids watch and do the activities for 5 minutes midway through their period of French class. You can also use this site at home while working in your room.  This can result in noticeable health gains such as increased circulation and energy. If you are required to spend long periods of time on a computer, it’s essential to create a schedule on your PC to remind you of when to take breaks. There is also a web-based tool, Workout Timer which you can download from the Chrome web store. Active Video Games (AVG) can provide users with the opportunity to practice skills and increase physical competence (Martin et al, 2015)

Smartphone Use and Activity Level

The use of smartphones for messaging, blogging and taking pictures can also be extended to promoting an active lifestyle. If you are a person who always has your smartphone attached to you, you can download many apps that can measure and track your fitness level. Pacer is an app that can help you maintain or increase your activity level through walking, running, or cycling. It can help build healthy eating habits and lose weight. You can find a list of recommended pedometer apps fitness apps, and running apps that can suit your lifestyle. The ability to know your activity level using a device can help motivate you to maintain an active lifestyle.

There is always hope of maintaining an active lifestyle, even with everyone being connected. What we, as a generation, need to do is to know how to use the technology to be creative in managing and maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. Blaming technology for an inactive lifestyle is not the route to take.

Furthur Readings

Technology and Sitting Too Much

Technology and Neck Strain

Are Wearables, Trackers, and Apps the Answer to our Inactivity Crisis?

References

Martin, N.J. ;Ameluxen-Coleman, E. J.;Heinrichs, D. M., Innovative Ways to Use Modern Technology to Enhance, Rather than Hinder, Physical Activity among YouthJournal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance; Apr 2015; 86, 4; ERIC pg. 46

Is Technology Robbing Students of Basic Skills?

A Post from the curmudgeon side of things. How many students will be hard-pressed to learn skills that we consider “basic” or essential in their adult years? Has technology really rendered them useless already?

Not to sound alarmist, but students are increasingly leaving school without what many adults in the world consider “basic life skills”. Which skills are missing from their education may surprise you. Read on and see if you find them as essential as some do!

What Time Is It?

Students are increasingly unable to tell time on analog clocks. As future-forward as I am, I find it highly surprising how many students I have encountered who are unable to read one. I also find it somewhat disturbing. Analog clocks are far from extinct, and students should know how to read one at a glance (says the curmudgeon in me). With that said, there is a whole host of terms that students miss out on when they can’t read a “traditional” clock face. What will become of terms like “clockwise” and “counterclockwise”? “Top of the hour,” “tick tock,” or “work around the clock”? I think it is important for students not to leave school without being able to understand the mysterious, slow-spinning devices fastened to surfaces and arms everywhere.

Speaking of Language…

Many of my G7-12 students in the past couple of years have had atrocious penmanship. Schools are phasing out cursive writing and many parents (and students) are asking why. Given that many people in the workforce still use cursive to leave Post-It notes (remember those?) on desks and monitors, or to jot down quick ideas, it seems short-sighted to remove this still-active form of communication from schools. Whatever the justification, there is a generation of block-printers who will have extreme difficulty looking at handwritten documents older than ten years.

What Was That Thing?

As technology both inside and outside of the classroom becomes more and more common (and connected), it seems many people are losing their ability to recall information or are simply unable to commit to memory the small nuances of new knowledge. Spelling, for example, is suffering immensely due to the ubiquity of spell-checking software. Students are unwilling to read a paragraph of text to extract the information – they expect it to be presented in an easy-to-digest format. There is an argument to be made around the question of students losing the ability to think critically, but perhaps it is only an “old style” of critical thinking that is being replaced with something new and better.

 

There are no easy answers when it comes to what skills students need for the future, but it seems premature to throw out many of the still-used skills many people rely on day-to-day. It still boggles my mind to think of someone looking at Big Ben and not understanding why it is making that racket.