It only takes two hours before physical eye discomfort sets in when the eyes are staring at a digital screen. Once the eyes begin to feel uncomfortable, they have reached a state that The Vision Council calls digital eye strain.
American adults typically spend about 6 and a half hours per day on the internet. But for children, that number may be higher; a shocking 21% of children 8 years of age or younger use smartphones, and 89% of teens report using social media. That means that children may be reaching the point of digital eye strain 2-3 times per day, which is especially alarming considering that there are important developmental milestones for vision that happen before 8 years of age. Teens are no different – they build vision skills in school through reading, interaction with computers, and physical activity.
While parents may have been concerned with the effect of television on physical and vision health, children now largely have access to TVs, computers, smartphones, and tablets all within a single household. Keeping children engaged in activities away from screens has become a concern that requires careful and consistent attention from parents. It is imperative that parents pay special attention to screen time to avoid permanent vision problems as the eyes continue to develop.
How to Combat Digital Eye Strain in Children
Parents can take measures to reduce the likelihood that their child or children will develop vision problems from too much exposure to screens. Try some of the following:
Especially in early development, keeping an eye on how children are using their digital devices will give you a better idea of how to teach them to properly use them later. Watching them and helping them interact with devices will allow you to keep a careful watch on when they take breaks and how they learn to decide when to put the devices down.
Of course, the best course of action is to expose children to as little screen time as possible. Children can best avoid digital eye strain and other vision problems by interacting with a three-dimensional world and attempting to track movement, discern near and far objects, and recognize patterns. But if you allow your children to use devices, make sure they are learning to use them responsibly.
As children get older and become capable of making important decisions, give them the freedom to choose wisely by educating them on the dangers of screens to their vision. Teach them how to determine when it’s time to take a break and show them the joys of experiencing life outside of screens.
There is no more powerful tool than teaching when it comes to ensuring proper vision development in a world of screens. Continue to educate your child as he or she reaches teen-hood and encourage responsible behavior on digital devices.
In extreme cases, or when it seems as if vision problems in your child may be developing, you can provide your child with protective eyewear that filters the blue light that comes from screens. While they may still strain to read or discern what’s happening on screen, their eyes will be protected from the discomfort and damage caused by blue light.
You can have your child evaluated by s developmental optometrist to see if they have any visual mechanic deficiencies that may be exacerbating signs and symptoms of digital eye strain. Issues such as eye focus, tracking and teaming can be re-mediated through vision training and optimize the visual system for the demand of screens and decrease symptoms on screens like.eye strain, headache, double vision, blur, loss of focus, and fatigue.
Digital devices have the power to teach our children incredible things, but they also come with inherent danger to the eyes, especially for kids. Start with supervision combined with education and remember to visit a vision therapy specialist for an exam if you suspect your child’s vision may be compromised.