One of the legitimate worries of concerned parents looking to the introduction of technology in class with suspicion is the effect of increased screen time on their children’s eyesight: looking at a screen for extended periods can be a considerable strain on the eyes and ultimately affect their health. However, web and application designers are aware of this and are working to offer alternatives: one common solution is dark mode or night mode, a setting that reduces the brightness of the screen by displaying the content in darker colour combinations designed to be easier on the eyes.
Several major operating systems and apps have acknowledged the need for a dark mode option, whose popularity seems to be on the rise with users worldwide: let’s explore some of the causes.
The advantages of dark mode
There are numerous reasons why using dark mode display in the classroom and during homework might be a way to assuage parents’ fears about the ill effects of school-mandated screen time: a design based on black and dark grey tones rather than the prevalent whites and light greys of the standard display mode is not only less stressful for the eyes, which promotes their healthy development, lessens the risk of myopia, and may even prevent some irreversible eye diseases, but also emits less blue light, which is said to disrupt the sleep cycle, especially if one is exposed to it shortly before going to bed.
With dark mode, parents can be less concerned about long study nights: if your children have to stay up late to prepare for an important test, you can at least rest a little easier knowing that with dark mode, they are more likely to have a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed and ready to perform at their best the next morning. Sleeping longer and better also has positive consequences on a person’s mood and reduces the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even depression.
Reduced brightness can also be a necessity in the case of certain conditions associated with photophobia, or extreme sensitivity to light: offering dark mode as an option can help affected students to keep up with tasks that would otherwise be impossible because of their specific sensory issues.
Moreover, using dark mode might be beneficial not only for the person looking at the screen, but also for the device itself: a dark screen can consume less power and generate less heat, leading to a longer battery life, and even conceal some displaying issues caused by a faulty screen, thus making it usable despite minor problems that would otherwise require expensive repairs or replacements. Multiply these small advantages by however many devices your institution has at its disposal and you might find that dark mode is a blessing for your school’s budget.
Even night mode has a dark side
Not everyone agrees on the benefits of dark mode: its effectiveness seems to be highly subjective, with some users claiming there is a definite difference and others reporting no particular improvement.
Dark mode is also not ideal in all conditions: if the screen is not backlit or the device is being used in a well-lit room, dark mode may actually have the opposite effect and make using your devices more difficult and straining for the eyes.
A dark background is also not a good idea for reading a long text in a small, thin font, so if you are a teacher looking to dark mode as a way to save your students some effort and preserve their health, please consider what kind of work your subject requires: it is one thing to do math exercises in dark mode or discuss art history through a website that is light on text and heavy on pictures, and quite another to analyse long, uninterrupted passages from a novel in literature class.
Whether you are a fan of dark mode or you are indifferent to it, however, it is easy to see that while its advantages are not universally acknowledged, it certainly cannot hurt: unless you are working in adverse conditions that would make dark mode more of a hindrance than a help, there is nothing wrong with trying and seeing what happens.