Parents underestimate time kids spend on electronic devices

August 25, 2014

A recent survey from the American Optometric Association (AOA) found that parents drastically underestimate the time their kids spend on digital devices.

St. Louis, MO-A recent survey from the American Optometric Association (AOA) found that parents drastically underestimate the time their kids spend on digital devices.

How digital devices are affecting vision

While the survey found that 83 percent of children ages 10 to 17 spend three or more hours per day on an electronic device, only 40 percent of parents believe their children use electronic devices for that amount of time. AOA says that this significant disparity may indicate that parents are more likely to overlook warning signs and symptoms associated with vision problems due to technology use, such as digital eye strain.

The survey found that 80 percent of children reported experiencing burning, itchy, or tired eyes after using electronic devices for long periods of time. These are all symptoms of digital eye strain. Additional symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, loss of focus, blurred vision, double vision, or head and neck pain.

“When parents think about their kids' mobile consumption habits, they often don't think about how much time they spend on devices in the classroom,” says Lori Roberts, OD, chair of the AOA's New Technology Committee. "Each year when school starts, we see an increase in kids complaining of symptoms synonymous with eye strain. Essentially, they're going from being home over the summer with a minimal amount of time spent using their devices back to a classroom full of technology, and their time on devices often doubles, leading to a strain on the eyes."