Tablets, smartphones, computers; technology abounds in today’s world.
All of this technology can certainly be beneficial for kids. They can learn a great a lot from it, and it can teach them invaluable skills. However, too much screen time can also be detrimental for children; most notably, it can have an adverse effect on the health of their vision.
The Effects of Too Much Screen Time on Kids’ Eyes
Pediatric eye doctors believe that there is a link between exposure to too much screen time and the development of myopia, or nearsightedness.
Myopia is a condition in which objects that are in close range can be seen clearly, but objects that are far away are blurred. For example, a person with nearsightedness may be able to see a computer screen or read a book with ease, but the television, a sign on the road or any object that is distant is blurred. Blurred distant vision is the result of the way light enters the eye, making it difficult for the eyes to focus on objects that are far away, thus making them appear blurred.
Though many people inherit nearsightedness, the development of this condition can be the result of how a person uses his eyes. People who spend a great deal of time focusing on objects that are within close range (computers, tablets, smartphones, etc) are more likely to develop this condition. Why? – Because focusing on objects in close range stresses the eyes and causes the vision system to focus and strain on the objects that are directly in front of the eyes. Since the eyes continue to grow during childhood, excessive screen time can directly impact how the eyes focus on objects both near and far, thus increasing the risk for the development of myopia.
How Parents can Reduce Children’s Screen Time
Because of the increased use of technology and its link to causing the development of early myopia, parents need to be mindful of their children’s screen time.
There are several ways that parents can prevent the negative impact too much screen time can have on their children. The following are some simple, yet highly effective ways you can keep your child’s vision healthy in a world where children are spending far more time using technology.
- Limit screen time. Monitor how time your children spend in front of computers, tablets and smartphones. Set a timer that will remind them when it’s time to take a break. Ideally, the timer should be set for every 20 minutes; when it goes off, have your child spend time looking at objects that are far away. Doing so will minimize the development of focusing problems and eye irritation.
- Schedule eye exams. Before the start of every school year, schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam for your child. During the exam, a doctor will examine your child’s near-point and distant focusing and determine if corrective lenses are needed.
- Reduce glare. Glare on a screen can make it more difficult to focus, thus causing even more strain on the eyes and increasing the risk of developing early myopia. To minimize glare, make sure that your child is not sitting in areas where windows, lamps and other light sources are directly visible while engaging in screen time. Also, reduce the amount of lighting in the room to correspond with the computer screen.
Technology can be a great source of entertainment and knowledge for children, but it can also have adverse effects on their eyesight. Be mindful of how your children use technology to reduce the development of eye problems.
Tara Heath is a health professional and works as a freelancer writer in the evenings. Her writing focuses mainly on health, such as skincare and how to live a healthy lifestyle overall. She lives in Burbank, Ca.