Every part of a toddler’s system is still developing, including their eyes. Unlike adults, children may not know the symptoms of tired eyes or how to describe what they are feeling. For this reason, it is important for parents to understand the effects that screens have on their little ones so they can monitor and limit screen usage to protect children’s developing eyes.
Constant focus on the same screen for long periods of time can cause concentration issues as well as headaches around the temples and eyes. These headaches may also be brought on when the lighting conditions are not ideal for the brightness of the screen, forcing the viewer to constantly squint.
Gazing at the same distance for a long period of time causes the eye’s focusing system to lock up. This is known as an accommodation spasm and results in blurred vision when looking away. Increased screen time is linked to rising rates of myopia (nearsightedness) in children, although this has not been proven.
Research shows that when we tend to blink less when staring at a screen. Blinking provides moisture to the eye and the eyelid provides suction across the eye from the tear duct which keeps the entire eye from drying out. Having a screen placed above a viewer’s eyes causes the upper eyelid to dry out more.
Monitor Screen Time
Screen time cuts into a toddler’s sleep and exercise time, which are important to combat childhood obesity. It is suggested that children 18 months and younger receive no screen time, children 18 months to two years should have very limited screen time with no solo use, and children ages two to five should be limited to one hour of screen time per day.
Take Frequent Breaks
Remind your child to look away from the screen at least every half hour. This will help to keep their eyes from locking up and it will encourage them to blink more.
Screens should be positioned slightly below eye level to keep the upper eyelid from drying out. A good rule of thumb is 1/2/10 - phones should be one foot away, computers should be kept two feet away, and televisions should be an average of 10 feet away (although this will vary depending on the size of the television). Adjust the font sizes on phones and computers to be easier for toddlers to see without having to squint and strain their eyes.
Get regular checkups for your toddlers. It is important to know the risks that your child is facing when it comes to screen time, and your optometrist will be able to help you assess the effects that screen time is having on your child.
If you have concerns about your toddler’s eyesight, then visit Tri-County Eye Clinic. We offer a wide range of vision products and services in Biloxi, Mississippi and the surrounding area.
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