The latest scientific research strongly recommends limiting children’s use of computer screens, mobile phones, tablets and other devices.
Research shows that when children focus their eyes close up for very long periods, they are at a greater risk of developing shortsightedness and other symptoms of eyestrain, along with headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain. It is more fatiguing and requires more effort to read from electronic devices than from hard copy, such as books.
|0-2 Years||None||None, with the possible exception of live video-chatting (e.g., Skype, Facetime) with parental support, due to its potential for social development.|
|2-5 Years||1 Hour per day or less||Age-appropriate programming that is educational, high-quality, and co-viewed. Content should be discussed with the child to provide context, helping them apply what they are seeing to the three-dimensional real-world environment. Excessive screen time prior to the age of five may cause delays in development and cognitive delays, along with poorer academic performance.|
|5-18 Years||2 Hours per day or less||Recreational screen time should be limited. Between these ages, consider individual screen time plans, based on the child’s developmental level and needs.|
The evidence shows:
The evidence suggests:
The majority of studies on the effects of screen time in children indicate that the risk of visual symptoms increase after 2–4 hours of use.
To help prevent vision and other problems as a result of excessive screen use, the following guidelines are recommended.
It has been discovered that children who spend more than two hours per day on screens (and less than 1.5 hours outdoors) are at increased risk of becoming shortsighted. Parents could consider reducing their own screen time as an example for their children to follow.
As a child grows, their posture and working distance are extremely important. Their device should not be closer than the distance to their elbow. Children should never read lying on their stomach, as the viewing distance will be much closer. Smartphone use which is excessive and extremely close can cause severe eye coordination problems.
Encouraging children to look up and away between page turns can help break the focus when reading an electronic document or book.
Take a short break from the screen at least every hour.
Differences between screen glare and lighting can create strain, so avoid using computers, tablets or phones outside in brightly lit areas.
Use the opportunity of a car trip to play external games and enjoy your surroundings. Limit device use.
Adjust the brightness of the device your child is using, to account for light and circumstances.
Every 20 minutes of continuous near focusing, a break is recommended by looking away. For children under nine, a physical break every hour is also recommended. A clock or timer can be used to reinforce breaks.
A distraction every now and then will cause your child to look up. Occasional interruptions with healthy snacks is one way to achieve this.
Studies have shown that screen use just before bed can increase the chances of a child failing to fall asleep and also stay asleep.