Consumer Reports

Are Devices Harming Our Kids' Eyes and Ears?

Children eight and younger spend an average of about 2.25 hours per day on smartphones, tablets, computers, and TV and parents often struggle with how much is too much.

With all that time on devices, young eyes and ears could be harmed. Consumer Reports has what you need to know for safer screen time and audio levels.

Eye doctors are seeing a marked increase in dry eye, nearsightedness, and other conditions in children. Looking at screens up close can cause the eye to shift focus, and over time that can cause the eyeball to lengthen, which can lead to or worsen nearsightedness.

And new research suggests that the blue light emitted by smartphones, tablets, computers, and TVs can, over time, damage the retina, the thin layer at the back of the eye that contains light-sensitive cells.

Experts agree that children’s eyes need regular breaks from tech activities. They suggest what’s called the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, kids should look out a window or at an object that’s at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

When it comes to hearing, audiologists are concerned that the continuous use of headphones at unsafe volume levels may lead to an increase in problems in children and teens.

Experts recommend that if you can hear the music coming from your kids’ headphones when they’re listening, it’s too loud. Or if you’re talking and they’re listening to their headphones and can’t hear you, the music is too loud.

When it comes to hearing safety, experts suggest the 80-90 rule: Children and teens shouldn’t listen to music at 80 percent of the volume on their devices for more than 90 minutes per day.

There are more strategies on our website outlined by Consumer Reports that can help keep children's eyes and ears safe.

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