AOA suggests ‘20-20-20’ rule to protect school children’s health

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Concerns over MoE’s preparation about e-education

KUWAIT CITY, Sept 14: In light of Kuwait is experiencing, as it prepares for the start of the new scholastic year next month through ‘distance education’ there are concerns about the ministry’s preparation, in light of the application of this system amid cries of protest that the system may affect the health of students, reports Al-Rai daily. The daily added, the doctors have warned of problems caused by the distance education system related to students’ health, as a result of spending long hours in front of digital devices, saying the children may suffer from sleep disturbances or disturb the sleep cycle in the brain, or they may be victims of obesity due to lack of physical exercise.

The doctors’ warning gives credence to the results of a medical study that revealed that children spending long hours in front of TV screens, laptops, or smartphones may be exposed to harmful rays emitted from these devices, which leads to poor eyesight, eye irritation, and other health problems such as obesity and muscle pain.

The Al-Rai opened the topic of negative effects of distance education on students, with a number of specialized doctors and consultants all of whom agree e-learning may be injurious to health. Consultant pediatric neurology, epilepsy, brain planning and stimulation, Dr Issa Al-Mashmoum, indicated the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended setting a reasonable limit for digital exposure, because of the fact that children between the ages of 8 and 18 use these electronic devices for an average of 7.5 hours per day, according to a study in this regard.

Dr Al-Mashmoum stressed it is unimaginable to see the world without smart phones, tablets and the Internet, and that the technology is there to remain, develop, and expand, but it may negatively affect the neurological and physical health of children, which confirms the need to limit its use, and hold parents responsible for monitoring their children to ensure they spend less hours in front of these devices to protect their health in general. Dr Al-Mashmoum indicated one of the negative effects of using these devices for a long time is the child’s exposure to problems with his behavior, as the children of primary school age who watch television, or use the computer for more than two hours a day, are more likely to have emotional and social problems, and be distracted.

This is in addition to the possibility of obesity as a result of or very little or no physical activity, and they may suffer from sleep disturbances as a result of the interference of light emitted from the screens with the sleep cycle in the brain, which may lead to insomnia. He revealed according to the American Optical Association (AOA), prolonged use of computers, tablets, and mobile phones can lead to digital eye fatigue, which may lead to suffering from some symptoms such as blurred vision, dry eyes, headache, and pain in the neck and shoulder, due to the contributing factors, such as screen glare, poor lighting, and inappropriate viewing distance, prompting the association to recommend following the 20-20- 20 rule to reduce eye fatigue, by taking a 20-second break after every 20 minutes from using electronic devices, to looking at something about 20 feet away.

However, specialist in natural medicine and qualification at the American Center for Physical Therapy, Dr Ahmed Saif Al-Din Farag, said electronic education is no longer optional, because of what the corona pandemic has done to the world imposing commitment to social distancing to limit the spread of the virus.

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