News and Commentary

Sarah Michelle Gellar: Remote Learning Has Given My Son Eye Problems
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 15: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar visits BuzzFeed's "AM To DM" on October 15, 2019 in New York City.
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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, health and government officials still insist that the schools stay closed and children conduct remote learning severed off from their friends and all social contact. Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) says this mode of learning is having negative consequences on her son’s eyesight.

Speaking with Today Parents, Gellar said that she initially thought her son was experiencing “screen fatigue” because he was on Zoom classes all day and using those same devices to interact with friends.

“I really chalked it up to screen fatigue because my kids didn’t have a lot of access to devices (before the coronavirus quarantine,)” Gellar told TODAY Parents. “All of a sudden they’re thrown into this world where they’re on Zoom for school and the only way they can connect with their friends afterwards is to continue on these devices. It was not something my kids were used to.”

However, as time went on, Gellar began to see that her eight-year-old son Rocky’s eye symptoms were much worse than simple screen fatigue.

“They said not only did he have myopia — the common term is nearsightedness — but it was progressing extremely rapidly,” said Gellar.

Her son Rocky will soon be trying contact lenses from CooperVision, which slow the progression of myopia in kids age 8 to 12.  Gellar expressed sympathy for children having difficulties with remote learning, offering up her respect for teachers and how they handle kids.

“He’s also left handed and it makes you realize the world is not set up for left-handed people,” she said. “I really feel for these kids. Kids go to school and they have professionals who are there to see that stuff and we count on that, but there is a difference when you know your own child inside and out. You have to go with your gut as a parent. I think that’s the best advice I’ve ever learned. You know your kid.”

“California is full homeschool,” she continued. “It’s extremely difficult. Understanding a concept is extremely different than being able to teach a concept. I may comprehend it, but that doesn’t mean that I can explain it to my kids in a way that they follow.”

Gellar said that she has made sure that screens are now only for schooltime while pushing her kids to do physical activity once the day ends.

“We’re pretty strict about screen time,” Gellar said. “During the school day screens are only for school, so there’s no television, there’s no texting friends, there’s no nothing. As soon as school’s out, we try to do physical activity outside as a family whether it’s hiking or taking a walk or biking or swimming. We’ve also gotten really into board games.”

“I don’t want to take it away from them because it’s one of the ways they communicate with their friends,” she added. “At the end of the day, parents really do know their children. You really sort of have to go with that.”