This is the number one question that many parents ask us every day as we find ourselves surrounded by computers, phones, and tablets. The truth is that currently there is no single study that specifies the exact number of hours per day to be on an electronic device. However, the Canadian Association of Optometrists do recommend limiting electronic device use to a maximum of 1 hour per day for ages 2-5, and 2 hours per day for ages 5-18.
What’s our advice? We always emphasize the importance of taking frequent breaks from screens (i.e. every half hour) and to encourage kids to engage more in outdoor activities. It really is quite that simple! Studies show that increased time spent outdoors reduces the risk of developing nearsightedness (myopia). How? Researchers suspect that sunlight and vitamin D levels affect eye length growth, and help the eye to grow at a normal rate. Just remember to protect their eyes from UV damage with sunglasses while they are outside.
Excessive screen time can also cause digital eye strain, resulting in blurred vision, headache, as well as burning and tired eyes. Although technology has helped us grow as a culture in so many creative ways, it’s vital to strike a balance in life and to appreciate the beauty and health benefits that simple things – like fresh air and the outdoors – have to offer.