With the emergence of smart devices and social media, people are spending more and more time in front of digital screens. Today, many jobs require you to use a computer for eight hours a day. Even children as young as six months get exposed to tablets and other digital devices by their parents. While modern technologies have many benefits, too much of anything can’t be good.
Staring in front of screens for too long can have a negative impact on the eyes of both adults and children. If your child experiences prolonged discomfort from viewing screens, schedule an eye exam immediately. Continue reading to learn what can happen if young ones use digital devices for too long.
What Happens When Kids Spend Too Much Time on Screens?
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes fail to produce quality tears for nourishment and lubrication. Eye redness, light sensitivity, a feeling of having something inside the eye and blurred vision characterize this eye condition. Sufferers can also experience watery eyes and eye fatigue and notice stringy mucus around their eyes. Moreover, people with dry eyes are more prone to develop eye infections due to insufficient tears.
This eye condition can occur if a person doesn’t blink enough. Your child can easily neglect blinking when using a computer or tablet. As a result, eye dryness and irritation occur. Computer screens are typically placed above the visual field, making viewing even more challenging for kids. When they use a desktop or laptop, their upper lids can open wider, drying the eye’s tear film faster.
Computer Vision Syndrome
Computers, tablets, laptops and other digital devices have higher visual demands than print material. Using them for too long can result in discomfort and increase the chances of developing vision-related issues. Uncorrected refractive error – such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism – increases the risk of digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome (CVS). It’s one reason regular eye examination appointments are vital.
CVS typically happens when the eyes can’t keep up with the visual demands of a specific task. Improper seating posture, poor lighting, incorrect viewing distances and glare on screens can contribute to the development of CVS. An individual who views a digital screen for at least two consecutive hours is more likely to get this eye condition. It’s the same for those who use digital devices daily. The most common symptoms of CVS include headaches, eye strain, blurred vision and dry eyes. Has your child been complaining of shoulder and neck pain after computer use lately? It’s possible that your kids have CVS.
Prolonged digital device use can tire out the muscles of the eyes. Focusing for too long can make it harder for your child to concentrate. They might even experience headaches around the eyes and temples. Viewing screens in a poorly lit environment can also cause the eyes to get tired faster due to squinting.
Blurred Vision and Nearsightedness
The eye’s focusing system can spasm when you stare at the same distance for too long. An accommodation spasm is where a child’s vision blurs when they look away from a digital screen. Some studies suggest that computer use and up-close work may increase myopia cases in children, but it is yet to be proven. Doing more outdoor activities contribute to healthier vision development in young ones.
Reduced Sleep Quality
It’s not a very good idea for your kids to use digital devices before heading to bed. There is evidence that screen exposure before bedtime can disrupt sleep by halting melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that the body produces at night to encourage feelings of tiredness and readiness to rest. Electronics will cause your child to be more alert instead of relaxed at night. As a result, they will find it more difficult to doze off and their sleep quality might suffer.
Younger individuals are more susceptible to sleep issues related to using digital devices that generate blue light. Several studies revealed an association between digital screen exposure before bed and sleep latency, which refers to the amount of time it takes a person to fall into a deep slumber. Children who use their smart devices at night tend to feel fatigued in the morning from not getting sufficient quality sleep.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Child’s Eyes?
Make Sure Your Child Takes Breaks
Your child can unconsciously stop blinking when using digital devices. It will help to supervise younger children as they view screens. Be sure they take breaks every now and then to avoid eye fatigue. Teach them the 20-20-20 rule, which encourages them to take breaks from electronic devices every 20 minutes and stare 20 feet away from the screen for 20 seconds. This technique will allow their eyes to recalibrate and rest.
Use Artificial Tears
Artificial tears can help keep your eyes lubricated. There are artificial tear ointments you can apply at night to get relief from dry eye. Older children who wear contacts could switch to glasses to reduce dryness from digital device use. It will also be helpful to run a humidifier if you have a dry indoor environment.
Practice Proper Posture and Screen Distances
See that your children’s seating posture is good while they are on their computer or laptop. Improper seating position can tighten up muscles and cause eye strain and headaches. As much as possible, their desk or device should be at least an arms-length away and at a little downward angle from their face.
Adjust Monitor Settings
Tweaking the settings of your child’s laptop screen or computer monitor will make viewing more comfortable and less harsh on the eyes. Change how bright the screen is and adjust its contrast to improve comfort. To avoid eye strain from glare, try not to use digital devices outdoors and in bright places.
Allow Kids to Spend More Time Outdoors
Letting your children play more outdoors can help them stay away from electronics for longer. They can play with their siblings or pets in the yard. Spending some time in the park or playground would also be fun and benefit their physical and eye health. If your child has online classes, encourage them to use non-electronic toys instead of playing video games while on break. Paper clips on books can act as reminders to take breaks from reading every few chapters.
Only Trust Reliable Sources
The internet is convenient because it instantly provides you with the information you need. However, don’t believe everything you read online. Only follow eye health advice from reliable sources, such as your eye doctor and articles backed with scientific evidence.
Schedule Routine Eye Checks
A child’s learning and development highly depend on visual skills. It could be hard for kids to perform well in school with uncorrected vision problems. Many times, children are not even aware that there is something wrong with their eyes. It’s one of the many reasons why it is essential for them to see a specialist regularly for an eye exam.
Keep in mind that vision screenings in schools are not the same as a comprehensive eye exam performed by an eye doctor. Experts suggest that children get their first eye exam at six months to see if their eyes are developing right. Their next appointment should be at the age of two or three and another visit before starting school.