Answers to your vision concerns about kids and video games

With the holiday season in full effect, you can bet that many kids will be receiving a video game or a new system in the next few weeks. In fact, one million PlayStation 4 consoles were sold in North America in the first 24 hours of its recent launch. Sadly, I was not one of those lucky ones.

Since the dawn of the television age, parents have been wondering “How much is too much?” After home video games were introduced, the question became even more relevant. Below you will find some of the most common concerns parents have and how to address each issue.

  1. Will video games ruin my kid’s eyes? Certainly, overuse of the visual system, especially up close, can lead to eyestrain, fatigue, redness of the eyes, and eye rubbing, but it cannot be stated conclusively that video games will directly lead to permanent damage.
  2. How much time should I let my kids play video games? 20 minutes of game play followed by a break is plenty. As for how much cumulative time per day, you are the best judge – but at our house we have a maximum of one hour of screen time daily. Then again, I must be fairly conservative because a recent study stated that 85% of kids use an electronic device up to four hours a day.
  3. Are video games good for anything? Besides allowing you to have some fun with your kids, a recent study demonstrated that some video games can improve hand-eye coordination. Also, in young children who have parental participation, certain video games can improve literacy.

So, while allowing your child to play Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty 24/7 may be a lousy idea, a small amount gaming with your child can be a good thing. Remember, about 60% of video game titles are rated “E” for everyone, so let’s have some fun!

~David Ardaya, OD

This original article by Golden Optometric optometrist David Ardaya has also been published by the California Optometric Association, where Dr Ardaya is a past president of the Orange County chapter.

Good Vision Can Improve a Child’s Academic and Athletic Performance and Self-Esteem

Is your child’s eyesight limiting his or her potential? Vision Council of America found that one in four children has problems with their sight. Since 80% of what children learn is visual, slight vision impairments can interfere with academic and athletic performance, and contribute to low self-esteem. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), routine eye exams are vital for early detection. Many children don’t realize they have vision problems. Their impaired vision seems normal.

School vision screenings don’t reveal all visual difficulties. In fact, the Journal of Behavioral Optometry found that one in ten children who pass a vision screening actually has vision problems.

The AOA recommends eye exams at six months, three and five years, and every 2 years thereafter. Children with visual conditions should follow a schedule recommended by their eye doctor. To learn more about the importance of early detection for children, go to www.thinkaboutyoureyes.com/kids-vision.