Your Child and Screen Time: When Is Enough

Author: Premier Eye Associates

As the use of digital devices such as phones, tablets, and computers increases – the concern for how this may impact children also is raised. Children are both more susceptible to changes from prolonged screen time and are more likely to use these devices both now and in the future. Understanding the appropriate ways to mitigate risks and manage screen time is as important as it has ever been.

Types of Screen Time and Impacts

While all digital device time can have implications for eyes and vision, the type of the screen or device can determine what impacts it will have on the vision.

Small devices such as phones and tablets are more likely to incite problems with focusing or accommodating.

On the other hand, larger devices like a computer screen or television will be more likely to induce dry eye syndrome from the reduction in blinking.

Any digital device can have impacts on focusing, dryness, and eye movements.

Focusing Problems from Screen Time

When looking at a small or medium-sized screen, the eyes must focus to create a clear picture in the brain.

This focusing occurs within the eyes by changing the shape and the position of the crystalline lens inside the eye.

When the accommodative or focusing system of the eyes works too hard or for too long, the eyes can become strained and tired.

These symptoms are not uncommon when reading or working on a digital device for an extended period of time.

Dryness Symptoms with Screen Time

Another common symptom associated with screen time is the increase in dry eye symptoms. The eyes naturally blink less when looking at a digital device than when looking at printed material or other objects.

Since there are fewer blinks, the eyes can become dry as the tears evaporate from the front surface of the eyes.

These symptoms may include irritation, feeling of something inside the eye, or feeling the need to rub the eyes frequently.

Problems with Eye Movements during Screen Time

Eye movements can be impacted similarly to the focusing system of the eyes. The eyes must turn inward when looking at a screen since the screen is often close to the face.

Converging the eyes is the process of turning the eyes inward to focus. This process can be overworked and become fatiguing from screen time.

Excess screen time can lead to double vision, a feeling of eye strain, or feeling the need to cover an eye when on a screen or digital device.

Screen Time Impacts on Children

Children are particularly impacted by the symptoms of screen time. Whether the eyes become tired or fatigued, dry, or have double vision, screen time can drastically reduce the overall health of the eyes and vision.

To mitigate the effects of these symptoms, screen time should be monitored and regulated. The amount should be determined based on the age and maturity of the child.

The older the child, the longer the child can reasonably have consecutive screen time.


Dr. Anthony Spina and the staff of Premier Eye Associates specialize in glasses, soft contact lenses, hard contact lenses, and medical eye exams. Call our eye doctor in Auburn, AL today at (334) 539-5391 or schedule an appointment online if you are interested in learning more about the effect of screen time on one's eyes.  Our optometrist provides only the highest quality eye care services amongst eye doctors in the Auburn Alabama area.

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