With the last school bell of the 2018-2019 school year right around the corner, doctors are encouraging parents to be mindful of how much screen time they are allowing their children.
A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that for teens, the average daily screen time was six hours and 40 minutes, and that number will only trend up during the summer months.
Dr. Emma Hendricks, an optometrist with Vold Vision, says extended screen time impacts eye health. “Too much screen time can definitely impact our children’s eyes in many ways,” she stated. “When we are focusing and inducing our eyes to have to be clear on anything up close like a phone or tablet screen our focusing system gets tired. So, when the child looks in the distance, things might be blurry. The child might also have eye pain or complaining of headaches.”
The blue light from screen time can also cause sleeping issues. “All the blue light coming off the screen taken in by our eyes prevent us from releasing melatonin,” Dr. Hendricks explained, “So, you get home from work on a summer day and your children just can’t get to sleep because they’ve had all that blue light exposure.”
Additionally, Dr. Hendricks warns that excessive screen time can slow down developmental growth such as eye and hand coordination. “Staring at a screen causes children to miss out on a lot of things that help our eyes and motor functions to grow developmentally,” she shared. “We want children out doing all those fun activities that kids should be doing in the summer that really do build their binocular world and provide strong eye and hand coordination.”