From TVs and computers, to phones and tablets, children today spend a lot of time looking at screens. It may not be good for their minds and it is certainly not good for their eyes.
As children spend more and more time glued to screens there is rising concern about the potential harm being done to their visual development. Ophthalmologists are seeing a distinct increase in children with dry eye and eyestrain from sitting in front of TVs and phones too much, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Currently, there is a global epidemic of myopia, AKA nearsightedness. In fact, since 1971, the incidence of nearsightedness in this country has almost doubled, to 42 percent. A new study appearing in Ophthalmology, suggests that spending time outdoors—especially in the early childhood years—can slow down the progression of nearsightedness.
Bottom line is, most computer users experience digital eyestrain, and kids and teens are no different from adults. They may also experience dry eye, eye strain, blurry vision and headaches, as well. While symptoms are usually temporary, but they can be annoying, frequent and persistent.
The best way to combat digital eyestrain in kids is to limit their screen time, making sure they take more frequent breaks. We don’t blink as often when we’re using computers and other devices, so you should encourage your child to take a 20 second break from the TV or computer every 20 minutes.
Tips to Prevent Eyestrain in Kids
According to The Vision Council, 70 percent of American adults say their children get more than two hours of screen time per day. Playing on a digital device and watching TV are the top two most popular activities reported by kids, aside from playing outside. However, all this screen time can lead to headaches, neck and shoulder pain, eyestrain, dry eyes, reduced attention span and irritability.
To offset this, set some boundaries. Here are a few tips:
- Set a timer to remind your kids to take a break from electronics.
- Encourage reading from a real book rather than an e-book, and tell them to look out the window after every two chapters.
- Do the same after completing a level in a video game.
- Avoid using computers outdoors or within brightly-lit areas, as the glare can cause strain.
- Adjust the brightness and contrast of the computer screen to a comfortable level.
- Encourage proper posture when using a computer or phone.
- Encourage your child to hold their devices 18 to 24 inches away from their eyes.
- Set an example. If your child sees you reading a book instead of being on your phone, they will follow your lead. Put the phone down at dinner, and make conversation instead. Remember: they are learning from you.
- Encourage healthy behaviors and limit unhealthy ones.
- Encourage other activities such as board games, arts and crafts, and sports.
- Cut out screen time when you notice behavioral changes, such as irritability, aggression, and impatience.
It may seem impossible to limit your kid’s screen time, but you are doing them a favor and instilling lifelong skills, not to mention saving their eyesight!
Contact Simon Eye Associates
To learn more tips or to schedule your child’s annual appointment, contact us at 302-239-1933 today.