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Children and Computer Vision Syndrome

As technology continues to influence our children’s lives, it’s crucial that parents help them develop the right habits that will serve them well in the future.

children and computersOne health issue that’s becoming increasingly relevant in our digital age has to do with the effects of prolonged computer use on our eyes and vision. Indeed, many parents worry about the negative impact of their children spending hours each day staring at the screens, but remain unsure of how to address the problem.

Understanding CVS: How It Can Impact Your Child’s Health
Computer vision syndrome – sometimes referred to as computer eyestrain, or digital eyestrain – encompasses a variety of vision or eye-related issues that result from computer use, or screen exposure in general.

Children and adults alike can experience the symptoms associated with CVS, which often include:

  • Eye discomfort
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry or irritated eyes
  • Headaches

Parents will be relieved to learn that CVS has yet to be linked to permanent eye damage. While this is heartening, it’s no reason to overlook the very real symptoms that can result from CVS, which can be both painful and detrimental to a child’s academic performance.

For this reason, it’s important that parents take precautions to protect their child from the ill-effects of computer use.

Tips for Parents: Preventing CVS in Children

No parent wants their child to experience eye discomfort, or to have it affect their performance in school. That’s why it’s important for parents to be proactive about helping their child guard against computer vision syndrome – this involves getting educated on the subject, offering assistance when needed, and instilling proper computer habits that become second-nature. 

  • Watch for symptoms: Oftentimes, children aren’t entirely aware that they’re experiencing symptoms of CVS, and thus won’t bring the issue up. That’s why it’s crucial for parents to remain vigilant of any signs indicating eyestrain, such as frequent rubbing of the eyes, or sitting in strange postures at the computer. If you notice your child is avoiding the computer, that too could be a sign.
  • Time limit: Help your child get into the habit of taking regular breaks during their computer use. The 20/20/20 rule is always a good place to start: every 20 minutes, your child should look away from the screen for 20 seconds, and focus instead on an object that’s about 20 feet away.
  • Reduce glare: The lighting in your child’s room should be arranged so that light isn’t reflecting directly into their eyes, or bouncing off their computer screen. This may involve moving their work desk away from nearby windows, or perhaps adjusting the curtains or blinds to ensure the amount of natural light is not an issue.
  • Computer height and position:The computer workstations that your child uses should be suited to their size – not to the size of an adult. A number of different things can go into making sure your child is well-positioned for computer use, including:
    • Ensuring the computer monitor isn’t too high or too far away (two feet is the recommended distance). Also, the screen should be tilted downward slightly.
    • Providing an adjustable chair that’s comfortable, and that offers strong support to promote good posture. Your child’s feet should be supported as well – either by the floor or a foot stool.
    • Your child should be positioned directly in front of the computer, so as to avoid leaning or slouching that might produce back or neck pain
    • Tablet usage: Many kids nowadays use iPads and other tablet devices nearly as much as they do desktop computer and laptops. However, holding these tablets up close to your face – as kids often do – will make your eyes work harder, and increase the chances of eyestrain. Keeping an arm’s length distance is recommended.
    • Eye exams: Did you know that one in four students has visual impairment problems? For this reason, it’s crucial to make sure your child visits an eye doctor every year for an exam, and that any prescription they receive is up to date. Many parents choose to schedule these annual appointments before the start of a new school year.