I received a question via our iPhone App from a Dad who was concerned about all of the new electronics his children are using and whether all these gadgets might harm his child’s vision? Good question.
After doing a bunch of research, there is not a lot of data to support the idea that all of this new technology can cause actual visual problems. But the constant use of computers, electronic games, and smartphones for messaging as well as good old fashioned TV watching may cause eye fatigue. The number of hours kids spend on these activities continues to grow, and even for a diligent parent who is watching their child’s screen time, the hours a child is on line at school must be factored in. It seems that 97% of all classrooms in the US have a computer or computers.
A study done in 2009 showed that the number of people with nearsightedness has been increasing in the last 30 years, and whether this is due to the amount of time we all spend doing “near work” is unclear.
The most important fact: limit your child’s screen time and count time on their phone texting, as well as on line on the computer or in front of the TV. It is cumulative. Encourage your child to take a break from the screen every 20 -30 minutes to let their eyes rest and to also adjust to some far away vision.
Smaller screens with smaller print also require more work for the eye muscles, which much contract to allow the eyes to focus. So, having your child read articles and lengthy papers on a bigger screen would be preferable to long reading tasks on their smartphone.
I see a lot of kids with tired necks and backs from leaning over their computers. They rarely associate their “screen time posture” with other aches and pains. Kids should be encouraged to sit up in a chair at a desk with their feet on the floor while working on the computer.
The computer or game screen should be at least 20 – 28 inches away from their eyes. Have your child move around and change positions when possible if they playing games etc and not at a desk.
Lastly, and most importantly, limit your child’s total screen time to no more than 2 hours /day. That may be more challenging than seeing the screen!
That’s your daily dose for today. We’ll chat again tomorrow.