Risks for Students
Digital Devices Daily
by Cindy Eckard
screensandkids @ gmail.com
1. Increased, irreversible myopia
long-term fixed distance viewing is very well known to promote
nearsightedness, the pre-teen and teenage developmental precondition for
myopia is being exacerbated when middle school kids are required to
stare at a computer for excessive periods of time. 10 - 15 year-old
children are already prone to myopia; it's the shape their eyes are
taking at this stage in their physical development.
American Academy of Pediatrics: "Myopia is the most common eye problem of the teen years,"
says Dr. Harold P. Koller, a pediatric ophthalmologist from
Meadowbrook, Pennsylvania, and clinical professor of ophthalmology at
Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "In kids who
are genetically programmed to be nearsighted,” he explains, “the eyeball
grows too long from front to back, usually during the growth spurt.”
researchers working with the National Institute of Health concluded
that daily screen time has caused myopia to double among children in the
U.S.. African-American and Asian children showed a higher propensity
for myopia than did Caucasian children. The lead researcher is a former
Johns Hopkins University Wilmer Eye Institute resident.
University of Southern California:
“While research shows there is a genetic component, the rapid
proliferation of myopia in the matter of a few decades among Asians
suggests that closeup work and use of mobile devices and screens on a daily basis, combined with a lack of proper lighting or sunlight, may be the real culprit behind these dramatic increases.”
The Vision Council:
"While adults with computer-oriented jobs seem to be the prime targets
of over-exposure to digital devices, one in four children use these
devices more than three hours a day. This exposure, which occurs both at
school and at play, poses a
risk to children’s developing eyes. accelerated myopia, or
nearsightedness, is just one potentially troubling byproduct of too much
Students are further disadvantaged in middle
school, because right when they need recess the most -- the one activity
that has been proven to mitigate myopia -- they are denied any regular
American Academy of Ophthalmology: "Encouraging
children to spend more time outdoors may be a simple and cost-effective
way to improve their vision as well as general health, according to
several recent studies. They add to the growing evidence that spending time outdoors may lower the risk of nearsightedness in children and adolescents. Nearsightedness is more common today in the United States and many other countries than it was in the 1970s."
All About Vision:
"Moderate and high myopia sometimes are associated with serious,
vision-threatening side effects" such as cataracts, retinal detachment
2. Retinal damage and premature macular degeneration
UV blue light emissions that damage the back of our eyes are better
able to penetrate children's eyes because the kids are not blinking, and
because a child's eye doesn't have the necessary pigmentation to
protect against the blue light. So the child is literally staring into a
computer with damaging blue light penetrating right to the back of his
University of Iowa: "As we stare at the computer screen or while reading, our blink rate decreases. We actually blink 66% less while working on the computer. This will cause your eyes to feel dry and to burn."
Children's and teen's eyes are still developing, and the protective
pigments in their eyes that is beneficial in filtering some of the
harmful blue light has not fully developed yet... Children and young adults who use smart phones and tablets are at risk of potential irreversible eye damage
because of blue light emissions from digital devices. Serious problems
begin to occur with your eyes when too much exposure to blue light is
encountered thru the use of LED Devices.
Prevent Blindness America:
"According to a recent study, children’s eyes absorb more blue light
than adults from digital device screens, which is a growing concern as
the popularity of cell phones, computers and tablets for school reading
and personal use continues to grow each year. Increasing public health
data and scientific research describes the
eye health effects linked to exposure to digital device light
emissions, including Computer Vision Syndrome, eye strain, sleep cycle
disruptions and premature retinal damage risk."
The Washington Post (January 11, 2016) "Computer, iPad and smartphone screens are thought to strain the eyes because they emit blue
light or high-energy visible (HEV) light, which reaches far deeper into
the eye than other kinds of light and can cause effects that are
A very good video that explains the physiology of blue light on the eye.
Surgical Specialty Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania:
"Continued exposure to blue light can affect the eyes in two ways.
First, it may cause eye fatigue. Your eyes may feel dry, irritated and
tired after hours of work on the computer or reading emails. This
happens to children as well, but it may happen much more rapidly.
Children can get headaches from digital eye strain, but it is easy for
parents to attribute headaches to other sources. Secondly, blue light is
harmful because it is the highest wavelength of visible light. The
energy from blue light penetrates all the way to the back of the eye and
passes through the eye’s natural filter. Adult eyes have protective
pigments that filter some of the harmful wavelengths of blue light, but those pigments are not fully developed in children which leaves them susceptible to eye damage."
3. Digital eye strain and musculoskeletal discomforts
in children's health are quick to point out that children are not just
small adults. When using digital devices, kids are often unaware of the
discomfort they are experiencing and do not correct their posture or
take a break when their eyes get dry or blurry. They suffer more than
adults, and don't do anything about it.
National Institute of Health: "Children can experience many of the same symptoms related to computer use as adults. However, some unique aspects of how children use computers may make them more susceptible than adults to the development of these problems."
For instance, children don't self-adjust when they experience eye or
muscle strain. They just keep working, to complete their assignments.
OSHA has regulated the use of computers
in the workplace since the 1990s when significant environmental health
symptoms were first documented: dry eyes, painful and blurry eyes as
well as muscle pain in the neck/shoulders were the chief complaints.
These symptoms are worse for today's young children who are required to
use a device as much as an office worker does. But kids aren't
self-aware enough to recognize and mitigate their own discomfort. And
there are no regulations to protect them.
American Optometric Association:
"Computer Vision Syndrome, also referred to as Digital Eye Strain,
describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from
prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use. Many
individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing
digital screens for extended periods. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use."
"Computer Vision Syndrome Threatens Returning Students: (Aug 13, 2007 ) The American Optometric Association (AOA) warned on Aug. 7 that children heading back to school are at risk for developing Computer Vision Syndrome,
which leaves them vulnerable to problems like dry eye, eyestrain and
fatigue. According to VSP Vision Care, nearly half of U.S. children
spend four hours a day or more using computers or other portable
Princeton University: "Carpal tunnel
syndrome is probably the most widely known repetitive strain injury
(RSI), but eyestrain is the most common. If uncorrected, eyestrain can
lead to general fatigue, increased myopia (nearsightedness), and a
decrease in overall efficiency. Everyone is at risk for eyestrain, especially those who work at a computer for more than three hours a day."
The Washington Post (January
11, 2016 ): Blue light from tech gadgets and digital eye strain: More
than 73 percent of young adults suffer from symptoms
The Chicago Tribune
(January 6, 2016) Digital eye strain: Symptoms include, in order of
prevalence, neck/shoulder/back pain, eye strain, headache, blurred
vision and dry eyes.
4. Sleeplessness and its damaging side effects
so much work is done on a computer at school, most homework and
studying also has to take place on a computer in the evening. This is
especially problematic for our kids because the blue light from the
digital devices suppresses a hormone called melatonin, which is
necessary for sleep. Our kids are now being deprived of sleep because of
the schools' constant reliance on digital devices, which brings a host
of additional serious health risks. Some kids are actually being
misdiagnosed with ADHD, when the truth is, they're just exhausted.
Frontiers in Health:
"The role of light and its influence on many aspects of our physiology,
behavior and well-being is increasingly well understood (4–6). In
particular, the light/dark cycle is critical in synchronizing the
circadian (daily) clock to the 24 h day. The hormone melatonin (“the
hormone of darkness”) is produced at night, with the duration of
secretion mirroring the dark period, and its production is associated
"Youth should be advised to limit or reduce screen time exposure,
especially before or during bedtime hours to minimize any harmful
effects of screen time on sleep and well-being."
Harvard University: "Exposure to blue light at night, emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs, [is] harmful to your health.
At night, light throws the body's biological clock—the circadian
rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may
contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and
The Sleep Foundation: "Children and adults
behave differently as a result of sleepiness. Adults usually become
sluggish when tired while children tend to overcompensate and speed up.
For this reason, sleep deprivation is sometimes confused with ADHD in children.
Children may also be moody, emotionally explosive, and/or aggressive as
a result of sleepiness. In a study involving 2,463 children aged 6-15,
children with sleep problems were more likely to be inattentive,
hyperactive, impulsive, and display oppositional behaviors. "
The Washington Post: Blue light from electronics disturbs sleep, especially for teenagers. Harvard sleep expert Dr. Steve Lockey:
"Sleep is important for learning, memory, brain development, health ...
We’re systematically sleep-depriving kids when their brains are still
developing, and you couldn’t design a worse system for learning.”
5. Increased propensity for psychological issues
constant use of digital devices is causing psychological problems for
many young people whose reliance on virtual experiences is replacing
actual interaction with friends and family. Some experts, such as Dr.
Nicholas Kardaras, report that digital device use leads to additional
mental health issues for young children such as depression and anxiety,
as well as pornography, gaming and gambling addictions. UCLA research
has shown that children are losing their ability recognize emotional
expressions in other people's faces.
TIME Magazine, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras:
"Indeed, over two hundred peer-reviewed studies point to screen time
correlating to increased ADHD, screen addiction, increased aggression,
depression, anxiety and even psychosis." TIME Magazine, August 13, 2016.
UCLA: "UCLA scientists
found that sixth-graders who went five days without even glancing at a
smartphone, television or other digital screen did substantially better
at reading human emotions than sixth-graders from the same school who
continued to spend hours each day looking at their electronic devices."
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