Minecraft doesn't come up in conversation every day at Bright Eyes Kids, but pretty close to it. I typically ask all my patients, young and old, what they do for fun and Minecraft is the first thing many kids say. And if you spend any time at a mall, school, or other place with kids, you will see lots of kids in Minecraft-themed t-shirts (but you might not get the jokes unless you have played it yourself.) And now Microsoft just bought the company that makes Minecraft for $2.5 Billion (with a B). Clearly they think someone is playing this game.
I don't have a "love/hate" relationship with Minecraft. It is more of "respect/worry" relationship.
Check out the infographic at the bottom of the post. It shows that kids are using devices for both fun and schoolwork. Parents tend to underestimate how much time their children use devices. Some kids use devices a lot - 7 hours or more each. I am betting that they do not find their off-screen homework as compelling as games like Minecraft.
Take this scenario: Parents bring in a child for an eye examination because their child is having headaches and blurry vision that only started in the last few months. When I ask if anything changed in this time, they will mention that their child got an iPad and have been playing Minecraft and other games. The evaluation confirms that the child is now having eyestrain and focusing problems from excessive device use.
This is more common than you might expect. In a recent AOA survey 4 out of 5 (or 83%) of kids say they have tired or blurry eyes after device use. That is a huge number!
Here are some suggestions to keep children's eyes comfortable while using a device:
- Check in with them, so you know how they are doing. Kids often don't realize they are having problems.
- Have them take frequent breaks (follow the 20-20-20 rule)
- Limit their overall scree time and make them get outside.
- Make sure they hold the device at a safe distance (Elbow distance)
- Keep even room lighting
- Wear reading glasses, if prescribed