Reduce Computer Eye Strain in Children

children eyes May 16, 2018

Written by the Editorial Team

Too much screen time can have negative effects on kids’ eyes, and yet, a report from CNN shows that 25% of children use digital devices for over three hours each day.

Children who use a computer or other digital device for extended periods of time must focus and refocus their eyes constantly, react to changing images on the screen, and move their eyes back and forth as they read. The screen itself also adds contrast, flicker, and glare to the visual experience of reading a digital device, which can make the effects of digital eye strain even worse for children.

Digital eye strain can lead to dry or itchy eyes, eye twitches, blurry vision, headaches, and back and neck pain. Children can also experience sleep problems such as insomnia from digital device overload.

Just as standing in one position for three hours strains your feet and legs, reading a digital device for several hours strains the eyes. Just like the legs, the eye is supported by a complicated network of muscles that can tire with use.

Many of the symptoms of digital eye strain can also come from bad lighting; poor contrast on the computer, tablet, or smartphone screen; screen glare; being too close or too far away from the screen; and/or the presence of ultraviolet blue light which can interfere with sleep/wake cycles.

Children can have a more comfortable computer experience, thanks to a combination of workspace modifications and periodic rest and exercises while using a computer.

Below are 6 tips to help you reduce digital eye strain for kids:

1. Limit screen time, especially at night

Seek to limit screen time, especially at night, to reduce symptoms of insomnia related to the backlight of the smartphone device, computer, or TV. The UV blue light emitted by most modern devices can interfere with children’s circadian rhythms and cause insomnia.

2.  Use the “20-20-20” rule

You and your child can both take advantage of the 20-20-20 rule to reduce the effects of eye strain. Every 20 minutes while using a digital device, look away from the screen to gaze at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

3. Take breaks

Encourage kids to get up and take breaks from their digital devices. To avoid developing muscle tension and fatigue from poor posture while reading a digital device, encourage kids to get up, move, and stretch periodically. Kids can also take longer breaks of 15 minutes to go outside, but remember to protect their eyes with sunglasses with 100% UV protection.

4. Reduce screen glare

If the room in which your child spends most of their time on their digital device receives a lot of natural light, use shades or blinds to reduce the intensity of the sunlight coming into the room.  

Keep the illumination level in the room at a comfortable level and reduce the presence of sunlight to reduce glare.

5. Improve screen contrast

Adjust the display settings on your computer monitor, smartphone, or tablet, to make the brightness and text size easier to read.  Many smartphone and tablet apps also have a ‘high-contrast’ setting which can improve readability and reduce the discomfort associated with eye strain.  

6. Adopt the child’s workspace

If your child works primarily at a desk, make sure that the middle of the computer screen is about 10 to 15 degrees below your child’s eyes.  You may consider replacing your computer monitor with a flat LCD screen to reduce flickering, which can be a major source of eye strain.

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