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  • Dr. Stephanie Goble, Your Technology Coach

Keeping Your Kids Safe when they Study Online - Part 2

In studying online, your child will spend many hours with their computer or tablet.

How do you keep them safe physically?

How do you help protect their eyes and their physical health as they are spending more time in front of a computer?

Let’s look at some practical, simple tips that you can easily use:

1. Screen placement: according to a leading ophthalmologist, keep the screen at least 1 arms-length away from their eyes.

You know how we’re all hearing about ‘social distancing’ right now? This is kinda the same type of thing with your computer - but only with a little less distancing!

Keeping some distance from the screen actually encourages the eyes to relax their focus, and makes it easier for seeing.

Our eyes focus easiest on objects that are approximately an arms-length away.

If the screen is too far, then it can be difficult to see smaller print — especially if there are slides or other items printed on the screen.

If the screen is too close, then it over-works our near-sighted eye muscles.

With the screen about an arms-length away, it is a good resting place for your child so they can easily watch their screen during class and when working on their homework. They can move closer/further away, as needed, for short periods — yet, it is most helpful to have good resting setup.

2. Teach your child to briefly look away every 5-10 minutes. Focus on something far away.

Try it yourself. You’re looking at this computer screen, reading this article. Take a second and look at something far away from you in the room. What happens to your eyes? Did you feel them shift? That’s your eyes moving to see objects further away.

When your child is looking at their class via online screen, their eyes are focused on one spot. Yet, our eyes are not used to just focusing on one space for long periods of time.

If you think about the normal classroom, you would alternate your vision: looking at the teacher, down at your book, on the board as the teacher writes, etc. The variety of objects and their distance helps keep our eyes sharp.

Teach your kids to vary their sight periodically so that their eyes stay flexible. It’s a simple thing that can make a difference over the long term.

3. Get up and move every 30 minutes.

Staying still for hours at a time can be tough on our bodies. In talking with physical therapy doctors, they say it’s best if we move every 30 minutes.

This movement will depend on what happening in the classroom. If the teacher is actively teaching, then maybe the movement is a little less distractive, such as having your child turn their head from side to side, and then look up/down. Have them lift their shoulders up and down.

Other times, if appropriate during the classroom training, it may be a quick stand up and stretch. Maybe even a few jumping jacks in place!

At lunch time and at any official break time, teach your child to be highly active. Take a good run to the mailbox and back a few times. Jump rope. Play basketball. Move!

It is easy to go from one sitting position (in front of the computer) to another sitting position (at the lunch table). A little more movement during a day can help keep your child more flexible and healthy.

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