Digital technology in schools and what it means for your eyes

From next year digital technology will be fully integrated into the New Zealand Curriculum. This means that as part of Technology at school, students will have achievement standards based on digital technology.

The aim of this curriculum change is to help students develop skills and an interest in digital technology to enable them to enter the IT sector. It will also mean they have the confidence and ability to use digital technologies in other careers.

As the world becomes more digital, and we use digital technology for communication and education more than ever before, our exposure to digital devices is higher than ever. This has an effect on our eyes and vision, particularly on children. The good news is there are things you can do to help.

To reduce eye strain when using digital devices, make sure to use the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet (6 metres) away for 20 seconds.

Devices expose us to a lot of blue light, which can disrupt sleep if used at night time (especially for children towards bed time) and may cause damage to the sensitive tissues in the eyes. To help with this, if a person needs glasses and spends a lot of time on digital devices, we can use lenses that have a coating on them that significantly reduces the amount of blue light that reaches the eye.

Many devices also have settings (or you can download apps) to reduce the amount of blue light emitted. They do this by shifting the colours of the screen towards warmer tones. Apple has Night Shift, Android has Twilight, Kindle has Blue Shade, and Google Chrome has an extension called f.lux.

Since digital technology is such a huge part of everyday life, we need to make sure we are not also doing damage with this wonderful tool.