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The digital danger all parents should know about

Posted at 6:48 AM, Nov 24, 2015
and last updated 2018-11-21 17:35:05-05
Watch out how much your kids are glued to their tablets and computers. There's an invisible digital danger that could be putting them at risk right now.
"I can spend hours on Instagram," says Anique Clark.
Social media is a major part of this 12-year-old girl's life. But it's not all fun and games.
"We take our notes on our iPads, or like the teacher uploads a document, and then we have to write on it," says Anique.
Between work and play -- many her age and younger -- spend hours in front of the computer, tablet and smartphone. Her mom, Michele, worries about possible side effects.
"When she starts to complain about a headache or her eyes hurting, I will say put the phone down for awhile and give your eyes a break," says Michele.
Anique actually got glasses just a few months ago, when she started having trouble focusing. Michele worries it's a direct result of too much screen time.
"Her father and I both had good eyes for many many years. We didn't have those devices," says Michele.
Science may back up Michele's fear. According to the American Optometric Association, early research shows light from different devices may affect vision, and even prematurely age our eyes. Local opthamologist, Dr. Rajy Rouweyha, says most of us experience what's known as Computer Vision Syndrome.
"You get some transient myopia, or nearsightedness, from staring at something up close. Because your eyes have to focus," says Dr. Rouweyha.
Symptoms include: dry eyes, irritation, redness, or eye fatigue. But there's good news.
"All of this will pretty much go away with a break or just walking away from the computer or display terminal for a couple of hours," says Dr. Rouweyha.
Researchers in this latest study admit, the long-term effects of today's devices on young eyes, are still being determined. Dr. Rouweyha says it's unknown what really causes our eyes to change.
"Some of it may be genetic. There's variables... As you're growing as a child, you're going through those developmental stages where you develop natural myopia or nearsightedness," says Dr. Rouweyha.
As for Michele, she's encouraging Anique to put her phone down when she can.
"When you're with your friends be in the moment, and be with your friends," says Michele.
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line. A child's eyes are still changing until about 13 years old. So it's important to have your kid's eyes checked annually. When spending extended amounts of time in front a screen, practice the 20-20-20 rule. Take a 20 second break, every 20 minutes and focus on something 20 feet away.