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3/28/2002
02:11 PM
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Move The Kids Away From The Screen, Please

The eyes have it: UC Berkeley's School of Optometry reports a direct link between computer usage and vision problems in children.

Forget about porn, plagiarism, and illegal music swapping. Tech-centric kids these days could have a bigger issue to deal with. Or, more likely, their parents and future employers could have a bigger issue.

There's a direct link between computer usage and vision problems in children, according to a study of 253 children between 6 and 10 years old released by the University of California at Berkeley School of Optometry and conducted by Dr. Pia Hoenig, chief of the Binocular Vision Clinic at the university. Hoenig says there's a strong correlation between children who spend a lot of time on the computer and premature nearsightedness, known as myopia.

Seventy percent of computer-using adults suffer from computer vision syndrome, altered vision that results from staring at computer pixels for long periods of time. Yet the situation could be much worse for children, Hoenig says, because most have been using computers since an early age. Plus, according to the American Optometric Association, kids may not have the same self-awareness as adults to acknowledge symptoms of vision problems, such as headache, eye fatigue, and blurry vision, and get it treated. Also, computer workstations are generally designed for adult bodies, leaving children straining their eyes when using the machines.

The problem may manifest itself as a learning impediment, Hoenig says, because 80% of a child's learning is visual.

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