Screen Time Guidelines for Children: Eye Health & Blue Light

Screen Time Guidelines for Children: Eye Health & Blue Light

Screen Time Guidelines for Children: Eye Health & Blue Light

Screen Time Guidelines for Children: Eye Health & Blue Light

Screen Time Guidelines for Children: Eye Health & Blue Light

April 8, 2024

In the digital era, screens are an inescapable part of daily life, especially for the youth. From educational tools to entertainment platforms, the presence of digital devices has grown exponentially, directly influencing the amount of time children spend in front of screens. As a parent or caregiver, understanding the implications of this modern reality is important. 


While these technologies can be immensely beneficial for learning and development, it is vital to balance the benefits with potential health concerns.


The Impact of Prolonged Screen Time on Eye Health


The visual system is not designed for prolonged focus on close-up objects. When children fixate on screens for extended periods, they may experience a range of adverse effects, commonly known as computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain. Symptoms include eye discomfort, fatigue, blurred vision, and headaches.


Another aspect of digital screens that can impact eye health is blue light exposure. Blue light has a short wavelength and high energy, which means it can penetrate deeper into the eye and potentially cause damage to the retina. Additionally, exposure to blue light, particularly in the evening, can disrupt circadian rhythms and interfere with sleep quality. 


Sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being, and for children, it plays a pivotal role in growth and development.


Screen Time Guidelines for Children


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers specific guidelines for managing children's screen time based on their age. Here's a summary of the current screen time guidelines for children:


Children Under 18 Months:


  • The AAP recommends minimizing or eliminating media exposure, other than video chatting, for children under the age of 18 months.


Children Ages 18 to 24 Months:


  • If digital media is introduced to children within this age group, it should be of high quality, and solo media use should be avoided.


Children Ages 2 to 5:


  • Limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programming.


School-Aged Children Ages 5 to 17 years:


  • Generally, no more than two hours per day, except for homework.



Tips for Implementing Screen Time Guidelines


A family media plan is an excellent tool for managing screen time in a structured manner. It involves setting clear rules for when, where, and how screens can be used at home. For instance, you might designate certain hours for homework or educational screen use and establish screen-free zones or times, such as during meals or before bedtime. The key is consistency and collective adherence to the rules outlined in the plan, making it a family-wide commitment.


Beyond setting time limits, teaching children about healthy screen habits is crucial. Encourage them to take breaks every 20 minutes to look away from the screen and focus on something in the distance. Adjust the brightness and contrast of screens to comfortable levels, and ensure devices are positioned at an appropriate distance and angle to reduce strain.


Routine pediatric eye exams are critical for identifying and addressing vision problems at an early stage. These exams are comprehensive and can uncover issues that a simple vision screening might miss. Early detection is key to effective treatment and can prevent difficulties in school and other activities that rely heavily on good vision.


Regular eye exams instill the importance of eye health from a young age, setting the foundation for a lifetime of good vision habits. Through these exams, children learn about the consequences of their screen time choices and the importance of taking proactive steps to protect their eyes. By prioritizing regular check-ups, you are not only safeguarding their current vision but also investing in their future well-being.


Navigating Screen Time for Optimal Eye Health 


By understanding the impacts, adhering to screen time guidelines, and implementing practical measures, you can help children enjoy the benefits of digital devices without the drawbacks. Balancing screen time with other activities and ensuring regular pediatric eye exams are essential practices for maintaining healthy vision. By taking these proactive steps, you are contributing to the overall well-being and development of the children in your care.


For further guidance on screen time and eye health or to schedule your child’s eye exam, visit East Main Vision Clinic at our office in Puyallup, Washington. Please call (253) 780-0700 or text (253) 770-2732 to book an appointment.

East Main Vision Clinic