The effects of digital screen usage on children's vision health

Published on
February 8, 2023

Pediatric eye health is a critical aspect of a child’s life and development. Good vision is not just about clarity but a functional system that is flexible and efficient, influencing a child's learning, development, behavior, and stamina. However, the excessive use of digital media devices such as television, cellular phones, tablets, and computers by children today has a profound effect on their vision and overall health.

The Digital Media Onslaught

Today’s families have to manage the increased use of digital media in children’s lives. While technology provides many benefits such as easy and immediate access to information and communication tools, it also comes with risks. The excessive use of digital media has led to children experiencing visual fatigue and decreased visual efficiency.

According to a report by Common Sense Media, teenagers (age 13-18) spend an average of 9 hours daily on entertainment media, while tweens (age 8-12) spend 6 hours daily. These statistics have increased 17% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The prolonged use of digital devices may lead to children becoming addicted to device use, social media, and gaming, leading to real, serious consequences in the pediatric population. In 2018, the World Health Organization recognized gaming disorder as a disease, and MRI studies have shown that gaming and smartphone addictions change the physical structure of the brain, much like drug and gambling addictions.

Impact of Screen Time On Children’s Visual Efficiency

As optometrists, we understand that the accommodative (focusing) system's strength is age-dependent. Excessive use of the accommodative system without proper visual hygiene can weaken it, leading to diagnoses of accommodative insufficiency. This includes reduced visual acuity, low amounts of against-the-rule astigmatism, asthenopia, headaches, and fatigue.

The excessive use of digital media also puts stress on the binocular vision system, which involves two eyes working together to form a single image. Screen-based activity stimulates visual processing more heavily than even the sensory processing systems, interrupting the development of binocular vision, leading to binocular vision dysfunction in the form of convergence excess or insufficiency.

Clinical studies reveal that prolonged use of handheld digital devices leads to a closer viewing distance, increasing the likelihood of accommodative and binocular vision issues and the visual symptoms that accompany them. There are treatment options available, such as reading glasses, bifocals, and vision therapy, aimed at improving visual function.

The progression of myopia is influenced by genetic and environmental factors, including digital media use. Optometrists must examine the screen time habits of patients to minimize the progression of myopia. Scientific research has shown that increased outdoor exposure reduces the development of myopia.

Take our online visual skills assessment to help identify if you or your child has a potential visual deficit that may be interfering with success in the classroom, work, or sports /vision-therapy-specialty/vision-and-learning-quiz/ 

The Negative Effects of Digital Media on Children's Development and Mental Health

In the current digital age, the use of digital media has become an inevitable part of children's daily lives. While digital media has many benefits, excessive and prolonged exposure to digital media has been linked to numerous negative effects on children's development and mental health.

Studies show that elevated digital media use can result in decreased cognitive and language skills in children, as well as a decrease in the ability to concentrate and pay attention. The blue light emitted by digital screens can also disrupt children's sleep patterns, leading to sleep deprivation, which can have a significant impact on overall health and well-being.

Moreover, digital media use has a strong correlation with children's mental health. Studies have found that excessive digital media use can lead to increased anxiety and depression, decreased self-esteem, and a negative impact on social skills. Children who spend a significant amount of time on digital devices are more likely to be bullied and less likely to engage in physical activity, which can have negative effects on physical health.

It's important for parents and caregivers to monitor and limit their children's digital media use, setting clear guidelines and creating a healthy balance between digital and non-digital activities. Encouraging outdoor activities, exercise, and face-to-face communication can also mitigate the negative effects of digital media on children's development and mental health.

The Negative Effects of Screen Time on Children's Sleep Habits

According to research, the blue light emitted from digital devices such as smartphones, laptops, and televisions disrupts the natural production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. This interference results in difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up feeling rested and refreshed.

In addition to these direct effects on sleep, technology usage also disrupts bedtime routines and reduces the amount of time spent engaging in other sleep-promoting activities, such as reading or practicing relaxation techniques.

As a result, the increasing use of technology by children and adolescents has become a growing concern among health professionals and parents alike. To minimize the impact of technology on sleep, it is recommended to establish a consistent bedtime routine, avoid using digital devices for at least an hour before bed, and engage in activities that promote relaxation and relaxation before sleep.

Schedule a pediatric eye exam for eye strain at Amplify EyeCare of Greater Long Beach

As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), daily screen time for children is as follows: ages 8 to 10 spend an average of 6 hours, ages 11 to 14 spend an average of 9 hours, and ages 15 to 18 spend an average of 7.5 hours.
If you're concerned about the impact of digital media on your child's eye health, it's important to take action. Regular pediatric eye exams can help ensure that any potential issues are caught early and treated effectively. At Amplify EyeCare of Greater Long Beach, our caring optometrists have extensive experience in pediatric eye care and are equipped to help diagnose and treat any eye strain symptoms your child may be experiencing. So, why wait? Schedule a pediatric eye exam for your child today by calling (562) 925-6591 and give them the best chance at healthy vision for years to come!
Parents looking for a pediatric eye exam visit our clinic from all over California, and we are proud to be a leading provider of pediatric eye services for patients from Bellflower, Long Beach, Lakewood, and Los Angeles.


I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.

Claire A.

Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.

Jim K.

My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!

Teresa S.

The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.

Joe M.

I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.

Kayla W.

This is not for the eye exam but for the frames selection portion. I brought my prescription from Kaiser here with my VSP insurance. The reception staff was very polite and professional.  Manny helped me to pick out frames and explain my coverage.  Very helpful and patient not like the individual at the other place I rated here on Yelp.  I was running late and he still helped me and was not bothered at all.  I am so glad I came here ..........very pleased.

Very professional staff and pleasant.

Daniel G.
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