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Christmas is upon us and the kids will be looking forward to some time off school to spend at home with family. Keeping them busy with fun activities over the holidays can help give them a break from prolonged screen time, which often leads to irritated eyes and eyestrain.
So, for a bit of fun we've put together a list of screen-free activities that we think will get the whole family in the festive spirit. After all, we could all do with a little cheering up!
Host a Christmas bake off – From traditional yule logs to frosted snowflake cupcakes to decorative gingerbread houses, there is a delightful recipe for all skill levels.
A cosy evening on the sofa – Prepare your favourite hot cocoa, toast marshmallows over the fireplace and enjoy a Christmas movie marathon. We recommend “Home Alone” to those looking for something humorous, “The Grinch” to those who can shamelessly re-watch the classics each year and “The Santa Clause” to those who need a heart-warming mood boost.
Send an unexpected, heartfelt gift – Whether you choose to send a loved one a homemade card or whether you donate some rations to your local foodbank, try taking time out to carry out a random act of kindness. After all, Christmas is the time of giving.
Learn a new skill – With spare time on your hands, you could try discovering a new skill. Perhaps something that you have always wanted to try such as knitting, teaching the children how to play an instrument or learning how to cook a new recipe? Learning a new skill can simply be a fun way to engage with others in your household or even have some much-needed alone time.
Get crafty – There are endless ways to bring out your creative side that both parents and children will love. Some of our suggestions are making handmade Christmas cards, DIY tree ornaments and handcrafted Christmas decorations such as paper snowflakes.
On another more serious note, with fewer festive gatherings on the horizon this year and staying at home a familiar scenario, many youngsters will inevitably end up spending time in front of a screen. Whether watching a film or playing a game on their tablet, excessive screen use can lead to eyestrain.
Charlotte Cook, Optometrist and Clinical Development Coach at Bayfields Opticians and Audiologists, explains what eye strain is and how to avoid it:
"Eyestrain is a common condition that affects both adults and children and occurs when your eyes get tired from intense use, such as staring at digital devices. Whilst eye strain can be irritating, it usually isn’t serious and will go away once you rest your eyes.
"However, there is a risk of becoming short sighted if you use screens a lot. This is because eyes adapt to what they’re being used for the most. If your children have any symptoms of eye strain – such as headaches or difficulties focusing – it’s a clear sign that they need to take more breaks from screens to avoid any long-lasting damage.
"This Christmas with COVID-19 restrictions, it’s inevitable that children will be in front of a screen for much of the day. This can lead to eye strain and headaches, but there are some simple measures you can take to reduce this.
"Firstly, reduce glare and reflections where possible by making sure the screen is pointed away from light sources. You can also fit anti-glare covers to your screen. If your child wears glasses, you may benefit from a lens with a blue light filter, such as the Zeiss Blue Protect.
"Secondly, regular breaks are vital. The ‘20:20 rule’ suggests that for every 20 minutes a child watches something on a screen, then they must take 20 seconds at least away from it.
“Encourage your child to do something where they are not focussing up close, such as playing outside or go on a walk together to ensure a good chunk of time in the day is spent away from screens.
"Finally, avoid small screens if you can. When we’re using devices like smartphones, we tend to hold them closer to our face and strain our eyes more to read smaller text."
We hope that this guidance helps you and your family avoid eyestrain over the Christmas period and most importantly that you all have a wonderful festive season, filled with fun, laughter and a stack of mince pies!
The Bayfields Team.