Children’s Vision and Screen Time

Oct 10, 2018

With the growing popularity of electronics, it can only be expected for there to be an increase in electronic screen-related ocular symptoms. This prevalence is estimated as high as 50-90% in adult users. The corresponding statistic is not yet known in children, but, as the use of electronics has become more common at home and at school, it would follow that the prevalence has increased for younger users as well.

Though the use of electronics may be unavoidable, the effect they have on children’s eyes can be reduced by following a few tips.

  • Position the computer to avoid eye strain

Computers should be placed with the top of the display at the child’s eye level. Then, allow them to move the screen down into a more comfortable viewing position, as needed. Make sure that there is no glare or reflection on the screen.

  • Avoid using a screen one hour before bedtime

The use of electronics close to bedtime can affect a child’s sleep.

  • Encourage outdoor activity over screen time

An increased prevalence of nearsightedness (myopia) has been linked to children spending less time outdoors. Going outside has the added benefit of being good for the child’s overall health.

  • Take a break

Children should take a break every 30-60 minutes to incorporate some whole-body physical activity. Additionally, children (and adults) are advised to use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, focus on something 20 feet away (across the room or out of a window) for 20 seconds.

  • Limit screen time

One of the most effective ways of protecting a child’s vision is to limit how much screen time they get in the first place. For infants and toddlers (0-2 years), no screen time is recommended besides perhaps live video-chatting – with parental support – for its potential for social development. Preschool children (2-5 years) should receive no more than one hour of screen time per day. It is recommended that this time should consist of age-appropriate, educational viewing and should be supervised. Children age 5 to 18 should get no more than two hours of recreational screen time per day.

Screen time plans should be based on both development and needs.

Lastly, make sure that your child has regular eye exams. These should take place once a year and are beneficial for detecting any problems with the eyes as well as monitoring eye health.