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Back To School Apps & Blue Light Exposure



One great way to reduce your child’s backpack load is to invest in an iPad. Many schools across the country have iPad’s they allow students to use during the school year. With so many apps available, it will significantly lessen the load they have to carry home every day.


iPad’s have come such a long way, and we can essentially do everything we need in one place. For the older kids, iPad’s can come in handy because they have a recording option for kids to record their lessons. A few helpful apps are:


Trello Task, Notion, Libby Library App, ReadWise, istudiez and Calculator Air.


With all the good that comes with tablets and iPad’s, one thing to keep in mind is to reduce the amount of blue light your child is exposed to.


The spectrum of visible lights has different wavelengths. Blue light has a short wavelength and high frequency. In fact, blue light is only slightly longer and less powerful than ultraviolet waves. Health experts have cautioned against the damaging effects of UV rays because they can harm eyes and skin. High frequency blue light rays are nearly as powerful, too.


New research shows that blue light from handheld devices and compute screens may not pose

severe health risks, some possible problems from blue light include:


Disruptive sleep. Blue light affects the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle by slowing down

melatonin production, the hormone that helps shut off the brain. When blue light passes through the pupil and touches the optic nerve, it transmits a signal to the pineal gland to switch off the melatonin faucet in the brain, hence reducing melatonin production. A study showed that prepubescent children are more sensitive to melatonin than older children. Blue light effect on sleep is troubling as sleep supports healthy growth and development during childhood and adolescence. Children won't get the required hours of sleep for growth if the vital sleep hormone is being suppressed (1).


Depressed mood and performance. Sleep is arguably the single most important controlled

variable that determines the mental and physical performance in children. When children don't sleep enough or soundly, they suffer mood swings, poor memory, and brain fog. Additionally, kids exposed to maximal screen time are more likely to become hyperactive and aggressive. Some children may likely struggle to succeed in school. A study on blue light's effect on sleep showed that those toddlers and preschoolers had more problems with emotional control, attention, and problem-solving skills if they had more than 4 hours of screen exposure-including television (3).


Poor eyesight. According to scientific data (2), blue light from digital screens disperses easily, which strains the eyes as they work to keep refocusing. As children gaze for long stretches at digital screens, their eyes work overtime to refocus the light. These long gazes can cause eye strain in children, headaches, sore eyes, and blurred vision. Studies have also revealed that excess screen time and the absence of natural light exposure are all connected to increasing rates of near-sightedness amongst children.


Weight gain. Just like adults, if a child continues to sleep less, he or she is at risk of diabetes,

weight gain, and other severe physical health problems. A 2016 study showed that higher

artificial light exposure contributed to an increased BMI. This study identified that exposure to blue light, particularly early in the morning and late at night, can cause poor sleep, stress,

tiredness, and less physical activity. This is all due to fat oxidation reduction, melatonin

imbalances, and insulin resistance. It is suggested that parents enforce time restrictions on

devices to 8:00AM and 8:00PM to reduce the impacts on their children’s metabolisms.


Sources:


Hale, L., Kirschen, G. W., LeBourgeois, M. K., Gradisar, M., Garrison, M. M., Montgomery-

Downs, H., Kirschen, H., McHale, S. M., Chang, A. M., & Buxton, O. M. (2018). Youth Screen

Media Habits and Sleep: Sleep-Friendly Screen Behavior Recommendations for Clinicians,

Educators, and Parents. Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America, 27(2),

229–245.

(1) Wu J, Seregard S, Spangberg B, Oskarsson M, Chen E. Blue light induced apoptosis in rat

retina. Eye (Lond) 1999;13 ( Pt 4):577-83.

(2) Steven W. Lockley, George C. Brainard, Charles A. Czeisler, High Sensitivity of the Human

Circadian Melatonin Rhythm to Resetting by Short Wavelength Light, The Journal of Clinical

Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 88, Issue 9, 1 September 2003, Pages 4502–4505

(3) McFadden E, Jones ME, Schoemaker MJ, Ashworth A, Swerdlow and AJ (2014). The

relationship between obesity and exposure to light at night: cross-sectional analyses of over

100,000 women in the Breakthrough Generations Study. Am J Epidemiol 180(3): 245–250

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