How Gadgets and Gizmos Can Affect Your Child’s Eyes

In this increasingly electronic world, it is becoming more and more inevitable that children will be using computers and electronic devices daily. And this is not necessarily a bad thing.

There is only limited research into the effects of computers on children, but one study showed that using computers can actually increase a young child’s readiness for school and academic application.

The study looked at 122 preschoolers in a Headstart program. All children took part in 4 tests at the start of the study that measured their level of school readiness, their visual and gross motor skills, and their cognitive development. They were then split in half; the ‘experimental’ and ‘control’ group. The experimental group were given 15-20 minutes of computer work each day, whereas the control group just followed the Headstart’s standard program.

The children were tested again after a few months, and those in the experimental group performed better in both school readiness and cognitive development. It was also found that those children whose preschool computer usage was complimented with computer work at home performed best.

This is a fantastic example of how computers can be used to benefit your child’s development and education.

However, you need to make sure that you have the balance right as too much time spent in front of a screen can do more harm than good. Be sure to watch out for these key problems:

Children don’t notice time passing when they’re staring at a screen

Whether they’re chatting to their friends online, looking up funny videos or playing games, hours can pass very quickly.

This can have negative effects on vision because staring at one flat distance for hours can lead to eye strain. Concentrating on a screen also reduces your blink rate which can lead to dry and irritated eyes. While the same is true with reading, a computer screen sits higher in your visual field than a book does. This means that your upper eyelid is retracted more than usual, which can lead to an even greater level of dryness.

Solution

You can easily monitor and limit the time your child spends in front of a screen. Encourage them to take part in other activities that will vary their movement, posture and eye focus.

Children ignore or aren’t aware of their discomfort

When they’re deep in the challenge of getting through to the next level on a game, children aren’t thinking about possible eye strain. According to the National Centre of Biotechnology Information, children assume that what they see is what other people see too, and so either ignore or aren’t aware of their own discomfort while gaming.

Computer screen glare is one of the most prominent factors that can negatively affect eye health. If an adult begins to feel eyestrain because of glare, they are likely to adjust the monitor’s brightness settings or surrounding environment lighting to make themselves more comfortable. A child, however, is not likely to do this.

In a similar way, if a child is sitting at a table or desk looking at a computer or tablet, it is probable that they will be looking upwards to view the screen which can lead to physical discomfort.

Solution

You can easily adjust lighting and general working conditions. To reduce screen glare you should avoid having top lights on and opt for slightly softer low lighting.

The optimum angle for reading or looking at a screen is 15 degrees downwards. If your child wishes to sit at a desk, make sure that you have a chair tall enough for them to be comfortable.

The most important thing you can do is encourage them to complain if they experience discomfort.

Computer and gaming technology is certainly the way of the future, and there are reports to suggest that elements of gaming can actually improve your vision. It is something that can’t be avoided, so savvy up and know the limits your child should take to protect their eyes in front of a computer.


About The Author

Steph McLean works at Lenstore, an ecommerce retailer that sells contact lenses online, and offers optical advice.


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