How Visual Stress During Online Learning Impacts Kids?

When the pandemic hit in December 2019, most parents didn’t know the impact it would have on their family, job, relations, and children’s education.

Almost 4 months down the line, and we have online schooling, where kids spend at least 8 hours staring at the screen trying to learn. Even though it was a way to keep them safe from the pandemic, the impact of gawking at the screen was another problem that caught most parents off guard.


What Is Visual Stress?

To a layman, it is your eyes getting tired from constantly looking at the computer screen or phone for long periods. Scientifically speaking, visual stress is the inability to understand or perceive what you are looking at. For kids, it could be the characters on a page blurring out, coming together, or moving about on the screen. This causes difficulty in reading or character recognition.

Visual stress or Meares-Irlen Syndrome (MIS) is often compared to dyslexia because kids find it hard to read or remember what is been read. It is not dyslexia. The problem deals with visual and can be traced to the cortex in the brain. However, it is not a visual problem that can be corrected with a pair of glasses.


Effect of visual stress in children

  • Difficulty reading
  • Having to read a line over again and again before comprehending it
  • Inability to focus because characters are dancing on the screen
  • A swirling effect of colors or characters suddenly disappearing from the screen
  • Inability to judge distance
  • Constant headaches and watering eyes


Ways to reduce visual stress in children

Using educational toys for kids – as a supplementary way of learning, using education toys will take their eyes off the screen and refocus their brains on something else. Educational toys also work with other senses organs like touch, smell, and improve their cognitive ability too.

It also helps kids to interact with their parents or other kids better, enhancing their speech, ability to socialize and think.


Add color to the screen

Put a color screen on the computer or download a shade screen on your child’s display system. This adds a touch of color and limits the impact of black writing on a white background that causes visual stress.


Have recess time 

The pandemic means most parents are working from home. This also signifies having less time to monitor how the kids are doing or how long they are spending on their devices. Although it keeps them busy, ensure they take recesses every hour or more to relax the eyes, and focus on something other than the light from the computer screen.

You can buy books related to their studies and have them read and work from it rather than spend too much time on their devices.


Education is the key to a successful future. However, kids need to partake in other activities to boost their cognitive abilities. So the next time your kids say they are tired or cannot understand what is on the screen, allow them to take a break.