Monday, January 23, 2012

iPhones, iPads, Nintendo DS...OH MY!

If you are sitting in a waiting room or out shopping, you probably see a lot of children on electronics like an iPhone/iPad or a Nintendo DS to keep them busy. Unfortunately, some of these children may be in danger of future vision problems if these devices are used as a crutch to entertain a child. Now I am not saying children shouldn’t have electronics – as an educational tool, they can do wonders – but what if we could minimized the amount of time they use the device.

When children are very young, their visual systems are still developing. Developing children need to interact with objects in real space. It’s how they develop depth perception, eye teaming, tracking and other visual skills.

Here are a couple tips to avoid vision problems:
  • Preschoolers should not play on an iPhone or small screen video game for longer than 15 minutes per day.
  • Older children should be limited to 30-60 minutes per day and take breaks every 15 minutes.Both children and adults should try and balance their gaming and computer usage with outdoor activities or sports that include a ball.
  • A child should not hold the screen too close to their eyes. Use the Harmon distance, which is the distance from the elbow to the middle knuckle.
Now we are not saying every child will develop vision problems or computer eye strain if they use a small screen video device.  What we are saying is we need to practice good viewing habits, your child could experience issues such as headaches, eye strain, or possibly develop nearsightedness.

If your child is currently in Vision Therapy and they abuse their time with video games or small electronics, by using these devices too much they could worsen the condition. Your children can still have fun with video games and games on the iPhone or iPad, just be smart and limit their time!


  1. My child has all these symptoms and ever since he started complaining, well, first I took him to the doctor to no avail but way before that I have been telling him about the long hours he is spending playing his DS...

    Today I read this article to him and told him that if he sneaks out on me, he is betraying himself. His eyes are really sore on the account of DS and my oversight.

    1. Thanks for reading Mara! Yes, get him to play outside and play catch. He can still play with his DS, but just be careful with the time.