You asked

Is my teen damaging his eyes by spending too long on the computer?

Watching TV, browsing the internet or playing computer games are all sources of entertainment for your teen and can even be educational but spending too much time sitting in front of a screen can be bad for your teen’s eyes.
 
 
How long is too long?
It is recommended that your child spends less than two hours in front of a screen per day.
 
Digital eye strain is commonly regarded as an adult condition, however children and teens are so tech-savvy nowadays spend so much of their day using many different digital devices that they are suffering from overuse. Children spend on average between 10 and 15 hours per week in front of a screen and can spend upwards of 1.5 hours texting per day. It’s really no wonder that their eyes are causing them pain.  
 
Digital eye strain is a medical issue with serious symptoms that can affect learning and productivity.  
The eyes are most comfortable when they are looking at something roughly 20 feet away. Looking at an object close up, like a computer game or a mobile phone requires more focus from the eyes, which over time can lead to blurred vision, eye strain and headaches.
 
There are steps that you and your child can take to protect growing eyes against eye strain:
 
Eye exams: It’s important that your teen has regular eye exams to ensure that their vision is the best it can be.
 
20/20/20 Rule: To avoid eyes from becoming tired or strained, eye doctors recommend the “20/20/20 Rule.” Your child should be encouraged to stop, look away from the screen and focus on something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
 
Ensure proper lighting: The wrong lighting can often causes eye strain. Ease the effects of eye strain by keeping bright lights to a minimum and position the desk lamp to shine on the desk and not at the screen. Position the computer screen in a way that reduces reflections and glare from windows or overhead lights.
 
Limit screen time:  Experts advise that for older children and teens, there should be a limit of less than two hours a day of screen time. Watching TV, playing computer games and surfing the internet are all included in this two hour allocation. Parents should watch out for digital eye strain symptoms like squinting, rubbing the eyes and any complaints of neck, back or head pain.
 
Working distance: Try to remember that the closer the eyes are to an object the harder they actually have to work. Encourage your child to hold handheld devices further away from their eyes and get them into the habit of sitting further away from the TV screen.
 
Spend time outdoors: Spending time outdoors is not only healthy for the mind, but it can also help prevent the development of nearsightedness. A few hours spent outdoors per day may actually help your child’s vision. Just remind them to use sunscreen and to always wear sunglasses. 

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