Limit children’s  use of mobile  phones  to one  hour a day 
Published on: Friday, March 15, 2019
By: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: Suzi Khalid, 35, felt something was wrong with her seven-year-old son’s vision after she noticed him having trouble even copying or writing a word to do his homework.

“He was also a heavy smartphone user, watching the YouTube channel till the battery died,” she said.

“So I took him to see a doctor who diagnosed him with myopia. The doctor told me to increase his Vitamin A intake with more vegetables like carrots, and milk,” she said.

Now, after a year, Zaki’s eyesight has improved and he doesn’t need to wear his glasses that often.

Ryzal Sharif, 40, said he noticed his six-year-old daughter was always squinting when looking at her phone screen.

“The doctor said it was myopia (near-sightedness) and that she has to wear glasses. Now I only allow her to play with her gadgets at the weekend — not an outright ban that she can’t be up to date with technology.

“The doctor also advised me to get Sophie (his daughter) to spend more time on outdoor activities rather than her electronic gadgets,” he said.

Prof Muhaya Eye & Lasik Centre (PMELC) consultant ophthalmologist, Dr Azura Ramlee, said screen time for children aged two to five should be limited to one hour per day to prevent an eyesight problem like myopia.

Dr Azura said eyesight problems are becoming more frequent in children because of overexposure to the gadget screen light.

She said the Segamat Paediatric Eye Disease Study (SEGPAEDS) by the Ministry of Health (in collaboration with the South East Asia Community Observatory (SEACO)/Monash University) found that myopia affected one per cent of the 1,287 child study participants, aged four to six. 

“But this prevalence is higher at age seven at 9.8 per cent, while another study showed that myopia increased to 34.4 per cent among 15-year-olds,” she told Bernama.

Dr Azura said these children were found to have spent an uncontrolled period of time on gadgets like cell phones, tablets and computers, causing them to suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and problems like blurred vision, dry eyes, tired eyes and headaches.

“Eyes were not created for looking at small screens at a very close range, or even for a long time,” she said.

She said a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn’t support children under age two watching television or video as it could affect their motor development and delay speech development.

“These electronic devices can be introduced to children, but parents must instil discipline and set a screen time limit,” she said.  – Bernama


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