Think Twice Before Gifting Devices for the Holidays
With today’s technological advancements, digital screens are hard to steer away from, especially for young eyes. Congruently, children’s toys and interests highly involve a digital screen. The new, shiny, flashy screen-based toys and electronics are more than likely at the top of your child’s wish list this year. But can these devices cause damage to their eyes?
As children are in their developmental stages, precautions and mindful practices around devices and screen-based toys should be taken into consideration when gifting during the holidays.
Long exposure to devices can cause discomfort in many forms — eye strain, headache, blurry vision, watery eyes, and stiff neck, back, or shoulders. Like adults, children will experience these symptoms. However, they are more likely to power through for the enjoyment of playing with the device and lose track of how long they have been staring at a screen. Additionally, children are oftentimes unaware of screen glare, the amount of light in the room, and their posture while using the device — which all contribute to these symptoms. So what are some ways to combat this discomfort?
Many seating options (couch, recliner, desk chair, etc.) are typically designed for adults. Proper neck and back support while enjoying the device is important. Bad posture can lead to discomfort in the neck, back, and shoulders, which can lead to headaches and ultimately eye pain. Provide a pillow for support and encourage your child to sit with good posture — device at eye level, neck in a neutral position, back straight, and shoulders down and relaxed.
Follow the 20/20/20 Rule
Regardless of leaning closer into the screen or sitting farther back, it is important to practice the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes spent behind a screen, you should look away and focus on something 20 feet away for a total of 20 seconds. This gives your eyes a break and time to relax.
Along with the 20/20/20 rule, it is imperative that you limit the amount of time behind a screen.
These breaks also allow your child to grab a snack, stay hydrated, get outside, or move along to a new task.
Regular Eye Exams
Ever catch your child leaning in for a better look or a better chance at getting the next score in a video game? This craning towards the screen may be a sign of nearsightedness, or myopia. Although mostly genetic, the risk of myopia can be controlled. If continually using a screen close to their eyes throughout their childhood, myopia and the risk of myopia can worsen as the child ages. If you noticed your child leaning closer or struggling to read the screen, it may be time for a check-up. Corrective lenses, a new prescription, and other treatments may be recommended.
Similarly to their awareness of screen time, children may also breeze past and ignore their inability to see clearly. Regular eye exams during their developmental stages are crucial to your child’s eye health. These eye exams can bring attention to and track any changes in vision and any vision-related discomfort or issues.
When considering gifts this year, make sure to take note of mindful practices when using devices and schedule a routine eye exam! Our team of qualified vision experts is here to assist and educate you and your child along the way. Our trained staff will work with you to diagnose any vision problems and suggest the best treatment options and corrective and protective measures for you and your child’s eyes. Schedule an appointment or visit us today!