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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Too Much Screen Time

Protecting Your Child’s Eyes in a Digital Age

Granted, it’s a cliché, but our eyes are truly our windows to the world. This fact is especially true for children. Clear vision for a child helps to significantly improve their social skills, their learning ability, and their overall happiness. But how do we protect our children’s vision in a digital world where eyestrain is far more prevalent?

  1. iPad/iPhone vs. Traditional Books
    Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a common vision issue that many adults suffer from. The trouble stems from (you guessed it) spending too much time staring at a computer screen. The same effect can occur from too much iPad or iPhone use. Don’t fret! CVS isn’t likely to cause any lasting eye health issues. However, long-term iPad/iPhone use may cause your child to experience eyestrain, blurred vision, dry eyes, headaches, and even shoulder/neck pain.

    Adults and children alike should try to not overdo the technology use. If you or your child experiences any of these symptoms, shut the device and pick up a traditional book instead. For youngsters who love their iPad, try limiting iPad time with a special schedule or a time lock app.
  2. Technology Time: When is it too much?
    Experts recommend no more than two hours of electronics per day. During device time, your child should take a break every twenty minutes. These small breaks will help soothe their tiring eyes. You can also watch for signs. For example, if you notice your child is rubbing their eyes or blinking a lot, it may be time to put the tablet or smartphone away.
  3. At What Age Should Children Start Using Devices?
    There is a wonderful array of learning apps for small children available on devices. These apps range from educational games to interactive picture books and can be a great resource for your children. Nevertheless, one common recommendation is that parents should wait until their child is in preschool before allowing them to start using a device.

    Preschoolers using tablets or smartphones should be heavily monitored. Parents can make it a shared experience, spending time with their children as they play games or read stories. During this time, be sure to stick to recommended break times to give their little eyes a rest. To conclude, preschool aged is recommended but there is no harm in a parent using their best judgment when handing over a device.
Contributed by Dr. Marc Weinstein, optometrist, Co-founder and CEO,


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