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Can Using the Computer Hurt Your Child’s Eyes?

By HERWriter
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People of all ages, and especially children and teens spend hours every day playing on computers and texting on cell phones. Parents should be aware that all that time looking at print on an electronic screen could actually put their children’s vision at risk.

Screen time is increasing
Statistics show that 94 percent of families with children in the U.S. have a computer hooked up to the internet. Between 1999 and 2009, the amount of time children and teens spend on the computer has tripled from 30 minutes to 90 minutes a day. Add to that the time spent playing video games and sending text messages and it adds up to hours a day with the eyes focused up-close on an electronic screen.

For most adults, this probably isn’t a cause for concern. The eyes of adults have developed the ability to hold focus. In addition, adults tend to be aware of their bodies and will notice if their eyes are tired or too dry from looking at a screen for too long.

Screen time and children’s vision
Children are a different story. Many eye doctors who specialize in treating children believe that using a computer too much can put them at risk for developing myopia at an earlier age. Myopia, which is also called nearsightedness, is a condition where the eyes focus clearly up close but are not able to focus as clearly at a distance. Using a computer requires the eyes to use fine motor skills that may not be fully developed in young children. This means children’s eyes are more likely to be strained by long periods focused on a computer or other screen.

Parents should be aware of the factors that can cause children to strain their eyes:

Lack of time awareness – Children are more likely than adults to lose track of how long they have been working on the computer or playing a video game. They are also less likely to think about taking a break, and are less willing to put the game on pause and look around for a few minutes.
Adaptability – Children tend to adapt to whatever their surroundings are, whether good or bad. That means they are less likely to recognize when glare on the computer screen is making their eyes tired, and they are less likely to think about moving the screen to get rid of the glare. Children may not notice that their eyes are dry or think to blink more to fix it. And children may not realize that their distance vision is getting blurry or may think the way their vision looks is normal for everyone.
Smaller size – Children are not the same size as adults. This may seem obvious, but when it comes to a computer desk, it is significant. Most computers are set up for an adult-sized user. This means the monitor may be too high for a child to see comfortably. The best viewing angle for anyone using a computer is with the top of the monitor about even with the eyes so you are looking slightly down at the monitor. Children also may not be able to reach the keyboard comfortably and their feet may not touch the floor, which can put them in an uncomfortable position while using the computer.

Follow these tips to help your children see clearly and not strain their eyes while using the computer or other electronics:

Vision check – Start by getting your child’s vision checked. Simple eye tests at school such as reading the eye chart from a distance may not detect if your child’s eyes are strained when looking up close.
Take a break – Make it one of the computer rules for children to take a break every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds. Looking at something farther away gives the eyes a chance to rest by focusing at a different distance.
Lower the computer – Make sure children have a special place to work on the computer, or have them sit on a high stool with a foot rest that lets them sit at an appropriate height to use the computer. Also, make sure the computer monitor is at least 18 inches away from their eyes to reduce eye strain.
Lighting – Position the computer so bright light doesn’t hit the screen and cause glare. Closing blinds or curtains can also lower the light in the room to a more comfortable level for computer use.

Computers and other electronic devices are central to the way of life in the United States and many other countries around the world. Parents can help children develop healthy habits for computer use by encouraging a variety of activities with and without an electronic screen.


All About Vision
American Optometric Assocation
Media Statistics

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EmpowHER Guest

as parents must be able to run a good communication with children could be disciplined for using the internet

December 27, 2010 - 7:03pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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