A study finds the average Nebraska kid spends more than seven-and-a-half hours daily using entertainment media: TVs, computers, tablets, video games, cell phones and other electronics. For some, it can lead to what’s known as Computer Vision Syndrome.
Symptoms include headaches, sore eyes, fatigue, blurry vision and eventually, nearsightedness. Optometrist Dr. Beth Triebel says there’s an easy way to prevent it.
“A good rule of thumb is to try to limit how much time they spend on the screens and do it in short periods of time,” Dr. Triebel says. “Maybe 20 minutes of time, then break and do something else and not have them staring at the screen for extended periods of time.”
While technology can be fun and exciting, in children whose vision system is not fully developed, she says eyestrain and worsening eyesight could be the result.
“There’s been some interesting studies recently about the harmful blue light that’s coming out of all of these screens,” Triebel says. “Having too much of that blue light can make us more tired and even mess up our sleeping patterns so we don’t feel well rested. Both adults and children need to think about how much time they’re spending at that screen and try to limit it or doing some things to block that blue light.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children and teens should engage with entertainment media for no more than one to two hours a day. Plenty of adults spend a good portion of their day staring at screens, too, so the optometrist suggests giving your eyes a frequent break.
“I call that the 20-20-20 rule,” Triebel says. “Look away every 20 minutes at something 20 feet away for about 20 seconds. That’s usually an easy thing to remember.”
The study from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that total entertainment media consumption for children between the ages of 8 and 18 is more than 53 hours a week. Also, it found kids in that group spend more time listening to music, playing games, and watching video content on their cell phones than they do talking on them.