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Screen Time and Vision Therapy: How Much is too Much?

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Screen Time: How much is too much?
Screen Time: How much is too much?

A million-dollar question for some, a straight answer for others, but pretty much every parent has already asked themselves: how much screen time should they allow their kid? We do not want to fiddle with you too much, so we might as well shoot the answer straight away—nobody really knows.

Exploring the Connection: How Excessive Screen Time in Young Children Can Impact Certain Health Issues

It is soothing to hear that there is no evidence that electronic device screens damage children’s eyes or impair the development of their visual systems.

That being said, there are some reports, though, that have linked certain other health issues to excessive screen time use in early childhood. These include:

  • ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder),
  • obesity (due to decreased physical activity),
  • and particularly myopia.

    The latter has been thoroughly discussed in one of our previous contributions, so click here to find out more about how increased near activities, including excessive screen time, lead to the development of refractive errors.

Current Screen Time Recommendations

Whilst no official guidelines on screen time in young children exist to date, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that except for the purpose of communication, kids up to two years of age should be refrained from screen use altogether.

Children up to 2 years: Avoid the use of screen media

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Children aged 2 to 5 years: For children between two and five screen time should be limited to roughly an hour per day, and the restrictions can be gradually relieved with increasing age.

Children aged 6 years and older: Creating consistent limits on the time spent using media, ensuring it does not interfere with adequate sleep and physical activity, and promoting positive and educational use of digital media.

It is important to note that electronic devices should never be used 1-2 hours before sleep time, as blue light emitted by LCD screens can interfere with one’s circadian rhythm, causing difficulties falling asleep.

What About Digital Vision Therapy Tools?

Digital vision therapy tools are on the rise and one of the most frequent questions we receive relates to the screen time limitations. When kids are required to use a vision therapy solution on a tablet or a computer, this is quickly followed by “But aren’t screens bad for the eyes?”

Digital vision therapy tools are on the rise.

Well, they are not beneficial, as we established, yet the general consensus in the professional community is that the downsides of not treating these problems far exceeds any potential problems that can be caused with digital vision therapy.

After all, all digital therapeutics in this area should be clearly time-limited. In the case of AmblyoPlay, we put this limit at 30 minutes of daily training with a possible extension to 45 minutes. During this time, patients stimulate their vision enough, so prolonged daily use is not required. The 30 minutes, though, do count in the total amount of screen time, so you should attempt to keep the daily total below 2 hours.

Surely the screen time cuts can be made on YouTube and entertainment content, rather than on vision therapy?

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Why Do We Suggest a Minimum Time of 6 Months for Success?

Based on the data from over 15,000 patients using AmblyoPlay, improvements start within 4 months, while optimal results take anywhere between 6-18 months on average. The duration of required training depends on the patient’s age, the severity of the problem, accompanying diseases, and adherence to the training program.