Forum: Myopia another worry linked to excessive screen time

A child watches a video at home on April 25, 2020.
A child watches a video at home on April 25, 2020.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Dr Tan Wei Beng raised a pertinent concern about the amount of screen time that babies and young children are exposed to in current times (Too much screen time may hurt children, July 30)

His concerns about the amount of screen time children are exposed to are justified based on recent results from start-up Plano's joint survey with the National University of Singapore Business School.

The results showed that almost 70 per cent of Singaporean children aged between three and 12 regularly used smartphones and tablets; clocking an average of three to five hours of use each day.

In recent years, numerous studies have reported a positive association between excessive screen time and myopia.

Myopia is one of the biggest public health challenges of our time, and is one of the most common health problems in the world, affecting an estimated two billion people today.

This is expected to increase to five billion by 2050, affecting half of the world's population. Treating myopia costs Asian economies an estimated US$328 billion (S$450 billion) every year, with Singapore alone spending an estimated US$755 million annually.

The reality is that screens are everywhere and constantly surround our children. I believe that parents play an important role in guiding their children to use these digital devices responsibly, and that young children will ultimately follow the good examples set by their parents.

Mohamed Dirani (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2020, with the headline 'Myopia another worry linked to excessive screen time'. Print Edition | Subscribe