The holidays are around the corner which means many parents are out shopping for tablets, computer games and other screen-based electronics for their kids. But can these devices cause trouble for their eyes? According to the AOA (American Optometric Association), not only do kids experience the same symptoms related to digital media screen use as adults, known as Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), they may be even more susceptible to the development of these problems. 

Ever found your child playing video games for hours on end? Children have limited self-awareness which lets them stay focused on an enjoyable task until near exhaustion. If this sounds like your kids, teach them what eye doctors call the “20-20-10” rule: every 20 minutes look at an object 20 feet away for at least 10 seconds to give the eyes a break.

Children can be more adaptable than adults causing them to tolerate discomfort better. While this in most cases is a positive, when it comes to staring at screens, children may not know to adjust their view if there’s an overabundance of glare. They may even not realize they have blurred vision due to a refractive error like nearsightedness, which can cause further eyestrain. To prevent this, be sure to have your child’s vision checked by an eye doctor every year. Also, carefully check for glare and reflections on TVs and computer screens in the house and reposition if necessary. 

Since most computer work stations are set up for adults, children often are not positioned properly to see the screen thereby causing problems with vision. Make sure your child’s chair is at a good height, a viewing angle of about 15% downward is ideal, and that his or her feet can touch the ground. 

Tablets and smartphones are especially hard on kids’ eyes because the screens are held so close to the face causing eye strain. The hours kids spend bent over these devices can cause ergonomic problems associated with CVS. Taking breaks and switching to a more distant screen can help prevent any issues. 

Many of kids’ favorite gifts this year will involve digital media. We hope our suggestions help your family have a safe and healthy holiday season.

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