Screen Time & Eye Health – How Much is Too Much?

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Growing up, did your parents ever warn you that sitting too closely to the TV could damage your vision? As The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles explains, it’s not sitting too closely that can cause vision problems, but rather the amount of time spent in front of a TV or other type of screen that can lead to eye issues.


girl using a computerThe Today’s Parent article on “Protect Young Eyes in the Technology Age” shared statistics from Kaiser Family Foundation revealing that kids between the ages of eight and 18 spend over seven hours a day with some form of electronics. It emphasized that so much screen time “can cause eye fatigue” with symptoms like blurry or irritated eyes, and possibly lead to eye strain and associated headaches, dryness, and diminished blink rate. Additionally, children who spend significant amounts of time in front of a TV, computer, or other form of electronic screen are at an increased risk of becoming obese since they are not physically active during this time.


Patricia Smith of Triangle Eye Physicians in Raleigh, N.C., shares that because kids’ are not aware of the potential damage to their eyes, “they’ll just play until they are exhausted. You’ve got to parent up and limit the amount of computer time.”


The first step in protecting your kids’ eyes from too much screen time is to limit it. Current guidelines recommend no screen time for kids under the age of two and only one to two hours of screen time a day for kids over the age of two. Other tips to consider include:


  • Remove TVs and/or computers from your kids’ bedroom;
  • Do not allow the use of the TV or computer during meal time;
  • Choose programs in advance, so that when they are over, you know to turn the TV off;
  • Set a good example by limiting your own screen time;
  • Set up computer stations that are comfortable for kids to use. Screens should be positioned 20 to 28 inches from the face and placed at or below eye level;
  • Encourage the 20-20-20 rule;
  • Make sure your child receives regular eye exams.

How do you manage screen time with your kids? Leave a comment to share your tips and ideas with us.


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