I’m sure most of our parents have asked us to move away from the television screen when we were younger because they said it’d affect our eyesight. Well, let’s just say that was a myth.
Studies have proved that sitting too close to the television while watching it will not affect or damage our eyesight.1
So, why do parents ask us to move away from the TV screen if it isn’t true? While it’s true that watching television too close to it will not damage your eyes, it may cause eyestrain. Children can focus on objects up close without strain than adults can and therefore, adults are more likely to develop the eyestrain than children. However, if children sit too close to watch the TV, it may be a sign of nearsightedness.
Now that we have understood the reason why we shouldn’t watch the TV sitting too close to it, let’s examine why we shouldn’t watch television in the dark.
Is Watching TV In The Dark Bad For You?
When you watch television you are focusing on pixels of light that are produced by cathode ray tubes. This is not different from what you see in your everyday life. The colors and different patterns you see every day is just light reflecting off from the objects and people. So, there is no difference if you watch TV in a well-lit room.
However, there is a difference if you are watching TV in a dark room. Here is the reason why.
When you watch television in a dark room, the only lighting in the room is the one that comes from the television screen. Now, if you observe the wall facing the screen, the lighting is not permanent. As the scenes in the show change, so does the lighting. This means that your eyes are concentrating on different levels of lighting.
Focusing on different levels of lighting can cause the pupils to dilate over and over again causing the eyes to use more muscles to help them focus. This can easily tire your eyes, causing your eyes to hurt and may also result in a headache in some cases. For this reason, it is advised to watch television in a room with lighting apart from the lights coming from the TV screen.
Additionally, when you focus on white light or on bright colors in a dark background, your eyes will find it difficult to focus. Bright colors and dark background mean that the eyes will be switching again between the two resulting in continuous dilation. This will strain your eyes but will not cause any permanent damage.
Is Watching TV Bad For Babies?
Doctors believe that it is better if babies are not exposed to television or any other form of gadget that involves looking at the screen until 18 months. It takes around 18 months for a baby’s brain to develop and interpret the movements on a screen.2
Children learn better when they interact with their family and other people. Every interaction is a learning process for children. They learn from the tone of voice, facial expressions, and the body language. Children cannot learn this from watching television or looking at a mobile screen.3
Here are reasons why media should be limited to toddlers and children.
- Young children with more media exposure or those having a mobile, television, or other gadgets in their room tend to sleep later at night. Exposure to light stimulates a nerve pathway from the eye to parts of the brain that control hormones, body temperature, and other functions that play a role in making us feel sleepy or keeping us awake.4
- Watching TV during infancy and preschool years can cause a delay in a child’s attention, thinking, language, and social skills. This delay may be because parents miss out on interacting with their children.5
- When young children are glued to the television, they are at a risk of weight gain and childhood obesity. Snacking while watching television promotes irregular eating habits.
- Watching television can also impact a child’s behavior. Watching shows that depict violence can affect the behavior of children and may end up mimicking these acts.6
- Watching too much television may also cause dry eyes because it reduces one’s blink rate.7
Ways To Reduce Eyestrain While Watching TV
You can watch television without straining your eyes in the following ways.
- Lower the brightness and contrast – When you reduce the brightness of the TV, your eyes do not have a problem focusing on the screen. Reducing the contrast may not be as effective, but bringing the colors and brightness together will reduce the strain on eyes.
- Maintain a distance between you and the TV – When watching the television, sit at least four or five meters away from the screen.8 Sitting too close can cause eyestrain and in some cases headaches, as mentioned earlier.
- Avoid glare and opt for low lighting – Make sure that your TV is not the only source of light in the room while watching television. However, make sure that there is no glare from the light source falling on the screen as this can also cause strain to your eyes. Ideally, using a source of light that isn’t too bright is good while watching television to avoid the glare.
The next time you switch on your television, make sure you are not too close to your television and enjoy your show!
|↑1||Can Sitting Too Close to the TV Damage Your Eyes? American Academy of Ophthalmology.|
|↑2||Why to Avoid TV for Infants & Toddlers. American Academy of Pediatrics.|
|↑3||Babies and Toddlers Should Learn from Play Not Screens. American Academy of Pediatrics.|
|↑4||Lights Out For A Good Night’s Sleep. National Sleep Foundation.|
|↑5, ↑6||Healthy Digital Media Use Habits for Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers. American Academy of Pediatrics.|
|↑7||Dry eyes and what you can try. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑8||Is watching too much TV bad for kids’ eyes? ABC Health & Wellbeing.|