In today’s technology-driven society, many parents are worrying about what their children are being exposed to. “Screen time” is frequently discussed, and parents question how much of it is safe. There is a growing increase in the use of such devices in the classroom as well. Today nearly 97% of all classrooms have at least 1 computer in them. Many have 1 for each student.
One of the possible implications of more screen time is the development of myopia (nearsightedness) in children. Many studies indicate that environmental factors play a crucial role in myopia development, with more time spent on near work and less time spent outdoors being correlated with a higher risk of myopia. The percentage of the world population with myopia in 2000 was estimated to be 25%. This is projected to climb to over 50% by 2050.
Another concern regarding screen time is eye strain. Extended periods of staring at a screen often causes the eyes to feel tired. Feeling dry, achy, fatigued, or becoming blurred are all symptoms that can result from too many hours on the computer, tablet, or phone. Although it is nearly impossible to avoid screen time now, it is important to give the eyes frequent breaks to blink and look away toward distant objects.
The take home message: Everyone should take breaks from screens and get outside regularly to experience those long views, but it is especially important for children. When the homework is finished, send them out to play!
Written by Bart W., Technician with Milwaukee Eye Care