Doctor’s Orders: Reduce Screen Time

Families everywhere wonder what all this pandemic-induced screen time is doing to growing children’s eye health. The long-term damage is unknowable, but experts warn of everything from early blindness to retinal detachment to migraines to strabismus (crossed eyes). 

Staring at a glowing screen a foot from our face for prolonged periods can’t be good for our eyes, not to mention our brains.

Dr. Kenneth Sorkin, a New York-based pediatric ophthalmologist of 21 years, participated in a webinar a few months ago on just this topic. He’s concerned and has prepared [this] 3-minute video to outline the problems and the risks. 

The Net-Net

The demand placed on kids’ vision has changed dramatically and precipitously. 

  • Screens are placed in front of kids at a much younger age.
  • Self-illuminated light is different than the light reflected off a blackboard.
  • Screen-time during pandemic learning is prolonged.
Warning Signs
  • Rapid blinking (screens make us blink 40-50% less)
  • Prescription changes
What You Can Do
  • Integrate books and boards; less electronics
  • Save screen time for school. Limit (or eliminate) recreational screen use.
  • Get a comprehensive eye exam; don’t rely on school vision screenings
  • Take breaks every 25 minutes; close eyes for 30 seconds; look away for 2 minutes (do with your child)
  • Back away: sit at screen with arms shaped like “L,” not “V”
  • Properly light work area
  • Get outside whenever possible, for any reason. This is not to be under-estimated!

About Dr. Kenneth Sorkin

Dr. Sorkin prepared the above video to share with school district decision makers. For over 20 years, he has dedicated his career to caring for the visual and overall well-being of children. He was a high school teacher before attending the State College of Optometry in NYC. He is a frequent lecturer at national conventions and has offices in Port Jefferson, LI and Manhattan. 

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This blog series is produced by our Screens in Schools work group.

Screens in Schools is a work group of CCFC’s Children’s Screen Time Action Network, which brings together experts, parents, and caregivers to talk about critical issues around kids and technology. Learn more about joining the Network, or sign up for our email list to be notified about upcoming events at www.screentimenetwork.org

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