Is Too Much Screen Time Bad for Kids?

Screen time refers to the total time spent in front of a digital screen; be it an iPad, an iPhone, TV, or the home computer or play-station.

72% of parents reportedly claim their children are spending 2 hours or more in front of the screen per day.

The problems with screens:

  1. LED lights in computer screens and devices emit
    ‘blue light’
  2. Blue light is thought to be harmful to the
    light-sensitive retina of the eye.
  3. Sleep patterns are disturbed by the artificial
    blue light exposure particularly before sleep time.

Normally blue light from the sun is found during the daytime. This helps
us regulate our circadian rhythms, or our ‘sleep-wake’ cycle. Excessive blue
light exposure particularly at night-time before bed can disrupt a person’s
normal sleep wake cycle and cause sleep difficulty.

  • Postural strain is also likely to affect your
    child after prolonged screen use. Teenagers often present to my clinic with
    “text neck’ or headaches, as well as neck and shoulder pain.
  • Increased incidence of “Myopia’ or
    near-sightedness. Experts suggest that the incidence of myopia has grown
    significantly in the last 20 years and this trend coincides with the increased
    use of computer devices and screens in children.
  • Other eye complaints are often reported such as
    eye strain and dry or irritated eyes also known as “computer vision syndrome’
  • Behavioural changes also are reported by parents
    such as reduced attention span, poor behaviour and irritability as well as ADHD-like
    symptoms which may ultimately affect a child’s academic performance and social
    connection with peers and family in the ‘’outside world’.

What can parents do to minimise eye damage in their Children?

Its likely that screens and the computer age will continue to be part of our children’s future.

  1. Limit blue light exposure-eliminate screen time for
    1-2 hours before bed
  2. Use ‘night-shift’ mode on your apple device,
    otherwise use apps such as or f.lux and Iris that block the blue light emitted from
    the screen.
  3. Use blue-light blocking glasses with lenses that
    block the blue light from reaching the retina.
  4. Encourage your child to have frequent rest
    breaks.  Every 20 minutes take your eyes
    of the screen and focus your eyes on something 10 meters away for at least 20
    seconds. This allows the eye muscles to relax and minimise eye strain.
  5. Encourage your child to get up and walk around
    during prolonged computer use.
  6. Use polarised sunglasses when outdoors to protect
    the eyes form the blue-light from the sun

(reference “All about Vision” – Children and Technology)