Is Video Gaming Hurting Our Children?

It’s no secret that in this day and age many kids put in many hours a day (not to mention scores of hours per week) sitting in front of a TV or computer screen.

The average age for kids having a smartphone continues to get lower and lower -- it seems like everywhere you look there’s a toddler on a smartphone or a tablet! Many kids are better with these technologies and more adept at living in our swipe and scroll culture than their parents are.

But it’s worse than you think. As far as a recent study conducted by Common Sense Media is concerned, the average teen and average adult spend about 9 hours of screen time… each day!

What comes as a result of spending so much time staring at a computer, television, phone, or tablet screen?

Dry Eye Syndrome is one problem that Americans are starting to develop at younger and younger ages. Why? Because we’re working, socializing, and conducting many of our extracurricular activities on the phone and the computer -- and we’re all doing it for a large percentage of our days.

What this means is children have video games at their disposal pretty much 24/7. What used to be an activity that could be monitored by setting up a console in the living room is something your kid could feasibly do all day long -- especially at times when you’re not there to monitor.

The Case Against Video Games

Play time has shifted from sports and outdoor games to gaming and indoor play. This generation is not getting  the valuable skills that are developed with real world, 3 dimensional play including eye hand coordination, balance, depth perception, tracking, and focusing.

Video and computer game play means looking at a fixed distance on a small screen for a prolonged period. Children are not getting sufficient visual motor or binocular stimulation to develop sophisticated tracking and eye teaming skills. For example, video games tend to have  scrolling backgrounds with little movement of the target. Conversely, following a ball over a baseball or soccer field allows development of tracking over a large area, learning to change visual focus from far to near at fast speeds, and shifting body weight to move with the ball.

Staring at video games for hours on end has obvious adverse effects on eye development, eye health, and vision -- and kids these days are even more susceptible to damage than kids from previous generations.

The Case for Outdoor Activity

Kids who make it a point to engage in outdoor activities or athletics are more likely to develop their eyes as a result of real life gameplay. Not only that, the health benefits of moving through space and their heart pumping more blood to enhance brain function are lacking in video game play.

Sports are far superior to video games when it comes to developing hand-eye coordination as well. It’s not even close. Athletics also help develop depth perception, team dynamics, and ethics at an early age.

Athletics place kids at an advantage compared to kids who are limited to seeing a 2-dimensional plane when playing video games a majority of their off time.

We Can Improve Underdeveloped Visual Skills Can Which Interfere with Learning & Sports

The “media generation” tends to have more visual motor and binocular underdevelopment than previous generations since they are missing out on the development of important visual skills that are necessary for reading and school work.

This is why we go beyond the standard or traditional eye exam by testing for skills that are crucial to achieving success in academics and sports. Additional skills that we test include:

We can improve these skills through Vision Therapy. In our office we train children and adults to have better visual control and coordination as well as visual perceptual skills to process information more accurately and efficiently. Our goal is to improve your performance at school, work and on the sports field.

Our Solution to Dry Eye and Eye Pain

At the Hollywood Vision Center, we can combat the effects of staring at a digital screen. We help patients of all ages keep their eyes from getting dry, red, and tired. We have innovative treatments that help treat dry eyes.

One such treatment is our MoisturEyes Spa! Think of MoisturEyes as a comfortable and relaxing heated massage for your eyes.

If you’d like to know more about our innovative eye treatments please contact our office today to schedule a soothing rejuvenating visit. Dr. Brisco has a 30 year track record of caring for our valued patients.

Dr. Elise Brisco

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