Toddler’s Excessive Use of Screen Time Leads to Severely Impaired Vision

Yet another reason why monitoring screen time is so important.
ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
July 1, 2019
toddler girl using mobile phone at the airport
Image: Tang Ming Tung / Getty Images

You may feel like screen time regulations are constantly being drilled into your head, but it’s for good reason. Parents of a two-year-old girl in China are coping with the recent news that too much screen time has caused their daughter to have a severe case of myopia, or impaired vision, Asia One reports.

Xiao Man, the youngster, had been watching videos on smartphones since she was one year old, according to the report. The smart device is allegedly the only thing that kept the girl entertained, so her parents let her watch videos on it for long periods of time. Eventually, they noticed she was squinting while watching videos, as well as rubbing her eyes.

Just to be safe, Mom and Dad decided to bring Xiao Man to the doctor to make sure everything was okay. But, much to their dismay, the toddler was diagnosed with severe myopia (nearly 900 degrees), the report states. Commonly known as nearsightedness, myopia causes faraway objects to appear blurry. Doctors told the parents that the damage was irreversible, and there’s a chance their daughter’s eyesight may get worse as she gets older.

The reason for the diagnosis? Her doctors say it was due to “prolonged and premature” use of electronic devices. Medical experts in the US would likely agree, and have set guidelines to help parents balance their child’s screen time use. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limited screen time for kids, and to avoid any screen time for babies under 18 months. As for toddlers, the AAP says occasional use of high-quality, educational shows is acceptable once kids are about 18 months or older, but there should be a maximum limit of one hour spent watching TV or videos for kids ages 2 to 5.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also weighed in on the topic and has set similar restrictions. Screen time isn’t recommended for babies younger than two years old, WHO says. Those older than two shouldn’t spend more than an hour using screen time.

Besides physical changes to eyesight, too much time spent looking at screens has also been associated with obesity and harming areas in the brain crucial for mental development.

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