It is a fact we live in an increasingly technological society. We are slowly moving away from paper based literature and using innovative media such as laptops, tablets, phones and wearable devices. This change not only affects us but also children.
In my experience some parents are very anti-technology and actively prevent their children from using devices. Personally I think this is a shame as it can put children on a 'back foot' when it comes to learning to use technology and learning how to control their personal usage.
As a father of a three year old girl I do let my daughter use my tablet or laptop, and I have since she was about 18 months old. Now to some that is way too early but Ava now has the dexterity and hand eye co-ordination to use a track-pad, she can scroll through photos or watch an episode of Peppa Pig without too much effort. At the same time I have instilled (hopefully) good habits so that she can continue to use technology in the correct way, and I will reinforce these habits regularly.
Habit 1. Control the duration of use - Device use should be limited to reduce fatigue to the ciliary muscle in the eye. The duration of time is a matter of contention. Personally 30 mins is more than enough in one sitting.
Habit 2. Control viewing distances - Most children will want to immerse themselves into their programme of choice. To do that they will move closer and closer to the screen. That way peripheral distractions are reduced to allow full concentration on the entertainment in front of them. Of course, sometimes it is a genuine visual problem so if the child is unhappy when you push the device further away from them it is wise to have their eyes examined to check for an uncorrected prescription.
Habit 3. Stop use at a fixed time before bed - Most devices emit blue light of wavelengths that are thought to reduce the melatonin levels in the brain and in doing so altering the natural body clock (circadian rhythm). Think about how you can stay awake for longer when you are looking at your phone/tablet when in bed. I recommend cessation of all device use 1 hour before bed to encourage a good nights sleep.
These are just a few pointers I practice at home/work but I also think regular eye examinations are important and for children under 16 it is free.
So this is a question I am asked many times over in the day and the answer as always is a bit more difficult to answer.
There are a few types of vision deficiency:
Long - sightedness (Hyperopia)
Short - sightedness (Myopia)
A few of these can combine to produce a complex prescription.
I will break them down simply: