Steps to Visually-Friendly Computer Use
Children have different needs to comfortably use a computer. A small amount of effort can
help reinforce appropriate viewing habits and assure comfortable and enjoyable computer use. Here are some things to consider for children using a computer.
• Have the child's vision checked. This will make sure that the child can see clearly and comfortably and can detect any hidden conditions that may contribute to eye strain. When necessary, glasses, contact lenses or vision therapy can provide clear, comfortable vision, not just for using the computer, but for all other aspects of daily activities.
Strictly enforce the amount of time that a child can continuously use the computer. A ten-minute break every hour will minimize the development of eye focusing problems and eye irritation caused by improper blinking.
Carefully check the height and arrangement of the computer. The child's size should determine how the monitor and keyboard are positioned. In many situations, the computer monitor will be too high in the child's field of view, the chair too low and the desk too high. A good solution to many of these problems is an adjustable chair that can be raised for the child's comfort, since it is usually difficult to lower the computer monitor. A foot stool may be necessary to support the child's feet.
Carefully check the lighting for glare on the computer screen. Windows or other light sources should not be directly visible when sitting in front of the monitor. When this occurs, the desk or computer may be turned to prevent glare on the screen. Sometimes glare is less obvious. In this case, holding a small mirror flat against the screen can be a useful way to look for light sources that are reflecting off of the screen from above or behind. If a light source can be seen in the mirror, the offending light should be moved or blocked from hitting the screen with a cardboard hood (a baffle) attached to the top of the monitor.
• In addition, the American Optometric Association (AOA) has evaluated and accepted a number of glare screens that can be added to a computer to reduce glare. Look for the AOA Seal of Acceptance when purchasing a glare reduction filter.
• Reduce the amount of lighting in the room to match the computer screen. Often this is very simple in the home. In some cases, a smaller light can be substituted for the bright overhead light or a dimmer switch can be installed to give flexible control of room lighting. In other cases, a three-way bulb can be turned onto its lowest setting.
Again, children have different needs to comfortably use a computer. A small amount of effort can help reinforce appropriate viewing habits and assure comfortable and enjoyable computer use.