How digital screen affects children’s vision

How digital screen affects children’s vision


A recent report showed that kids are spending more and more time on digital screens. It varies from 42 minutes a day for under 2 years of age to 4 hours and 44 minutes for the 8 to 10 age groups.


Daily Average of Screen Time of Children & Teens, By Age (in years)

Age Group (in years)

Daily Average of Screen Time

Year Data Was Collected

Under 2

42 minutes



2 hours, 39 minutes



2 hours, 59 minutes



4 hours, 44 minutes



7 hours, 22 minutes



The Covid 19 pandemic has no doubt increased these times even more significantly since then as more and more classes and homework are done online.


So the question is, what effect does all this screen time have on children?


  • Increase in the amount of myopia (short-sightedness)


Along the COVID 19 pandemic there is also a myopia pandemic with one million people a week becoming myopic worldwide. Yes, that’s every WEEK!

Increased usage of digital devices such as smartphones and tablets play a big part in this. The reason is because these devices are held at a close distance to the eyes and using them for extended periods of time causes a stress on the visual system. Children’s eyes and their associated muscles become adapted to correcting for close distance and treat this as the default distance which causes blurred vision at a distance or short-sightedness. Children need to be outdoor as much as possible and getting used to looking into the distance. If doing homework its not a good idea to have a desk up against a wall but much better to have a view out the window so that they can take breaks from the close concentrate work and look out in the distance every now and then to get their eyes used to correcting for distance vision.







  • Increase in the amount of eyestrain and headaches


All digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, PC’ and TV’s emit harmful high energy blue light. This is the closest part of the visual spectrum to UV light and we all know how dangerous UV light can be.

These high energy wavelengths cause a stress on the visual system and if exposed to this for 2 hours a day or more can lead to eyestrain, headaches and tired eyes. 

The best way to avoid this is to reduce the amount of time children are exposed to digital devices. In our modern world it is getting harder to eliminate screen time completely and for the time needed to spend on screen for homework etc it is a good idea to wear blue light glasses from companies such as Sapphire Eyewear  that block out the harmful blue wavelengths of light and allow spending longer lengths of time on screens without suffering from the associated symptoms. You don’t have to be a glasses wearer to benefit from these glasses as they are also non-prescription options.



  • Disrupted sleeping patterns

Blue light from digital screens also cause a decrease in the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone. Melatonin is responsible for regulating your circadian rhythm so a reduction in its production causes sleep disturbances. Its important that kids are not watching Netflix on tablets or playing the latest games on a smartphone within two hours of going to bed and if they do it’s a good idea again to use blue light glasses.


  • Other negative consequences of excess screen time with children have been linked to are obesity, behavioural problems, attention problems, a propensity for violence, reduced self confidence, and emotional and personality problems.



Tips to reduce screen time with kids


Set a schedule

Setting screen time rules for the whole family is very important. Allowing for example 30 minutes screen time in the evening at a specific time each day can be a good idea. Kids also benefit from routine and it has been shown that ad hoc use can get out of control quite quickly and can can be difficult to monitor.


Use technology to monitor screen-time

There are apps available where you can set it to turn the device on or off a specific times. This is a great way to set a schedule as it doesn’t involve any nagging when the time is up. The device will switch off automatically. There are also similar options from some broadband providers that can turn wifi on or off at different times.


Set an example

Kids will often mirror their parents actions so if you try to limit your own screen time and sit down to read a book rather than reaching for Instagram this behaviour will rub off on your kids.

Encourage other activities

Rather than just telling kids to put their devices away it’s a good idea to encourage other activity such as reading a book or playing outdoors or even digging out an old boardgame. The fun does not have to end when the screens get put away and its important not to establish a negative feeling or a feeling of boredom once screen time ends.

Kids such be encouraged to have a wide range of activities that they can do to provide alternative options to digital devices.



Make screen-time a privilege rather than a right

Some parents take away the privilege of screen time due to certain bad behaviours, which is fine. But it is important not to do the opposite and to give extra screen time for good behaviour. Its best to stick to the limits originally agreed to and not diverge from them if possible.


Made the bedroom and homework space a screen-free zone

In a child’s bedroom it can be difficult to monitor what the devices are being used for and how long they are being used so it can be better to make the bedroom a screen-free zone. They can also act as a distraction when doing homework so they are best avoided in these spaces also. Limiting the devices to certain times in certain areas is the best way to keep control of screen time.