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My previous jobs required me to do tonnes and tonnes of reading and editing. Not that I’m complaining, but back then, after clocking in many long hours at work, all I ever wanted to do was to head home, plop onto the couch with remote in hand and vegetate. Throw a novel onto my lap and ask me to read it? My answer would have been, “Bah, leave me alone”. I don’t hate books, on the contrary, I adore them. But ask me to read a novel after work? Get me the TV remote, I’d say!

But I did (and still do) have this itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie pang of regret though — after spending years collecting the many novels and storybooks which stayed hidden (and for good reason, too. Think tiny hands yet massive destruction!), I had simply neglected them.

Now that I’m a stay-at-home mum, many would think, “Don’t you have more time to read those novels?” I wish! My days are constantly filled with school-related activities, chores, errands to run, bills to pay… you get the idea. Ah, but there’s still hope, you say. Actually, yes, there is. All in the form of an… e-book! This wondrous invention has certainly opened a gateway to my stash of favourite e-novels, and so after the sun sets and the kids are in bed, thus begin my, ahem, love affair with the smartphone.

I must admit, reading a novel on a small screen is not an easy feat. Now imagine reading a novel. On a small screen. In the dark! Truth be told, I could only scan a few pages in a couple of minutes before my eyes began to hurt, even after I had adjusted the screen settings to Night Mode. After several tries, I simply gave up. But the experience got me all curious to find out what kind of effect — when reading text on a smartphone in the dark — could do to one’s eyes.

Did you know that a Daily Mail Online’s report in 2014 mentioned that using the phone at night can cause blindness? Shocking, isn’t it? Apparently, a man in China had to go under the knife after spending hours texting his girlfriend in the dark! Eye experts said that staring at bright screens for long periods of time could cause unnecessary strain to the eyes, and the young man almost went blind because his retina had detached from the back of his eye. Talk about an eye-opening revelation!

Now that humans have grown an extra “limb” that they can’t do without — in the form of a smartphone, that is — I dread to think what our kids (tweens and teens, especially) are up to when they are in bed. With their phones. At night! Are they texting their pals or thrashing zombies on their devices instead of getting the much-needed shuteye? Do your kids ever complain of eye pain, itching or blurry vision the next morning, even after going to bed earlier than usual? Did we, as parents, lay out the necessary groundwork for responsible phone use at home? Do we sit down with our kids to discuss the effects and dangers of using the smartphone or tablets in the dark?

My kids are still too young to own a phone now, and who knows what new crop of gadgets will surface in the future. But when the day comes, I can only hope that they’d exercise caution and be sensible about the whole matter when using such devices. As for me, you can throw a paperback onto my lap anytime.

 

About Author

Caroline Francis

Caroline Francis has been a sub-editor and writer for over 20 years. She spent 12 years working with an awesome team at IT Publications where she was the assistant chief sub-editor for its technology pullout.

Read more about her.

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