Nearsightedness and Competitive NYC Schools

We were recently quoted in a New York Post article about the development of nearsightedness in students who go to the competitive schools in New York. A pediatric ophthalmologist on the Upper East Side was interviewed about his assertion that there is a correlation between myopia and attending NYC private schools. He expressed the opinion that kids in these schools are at increased risk for the condition due to the volume of reading and homework.

Partners with Parents Tutoring Service was contacted by the journalist to offer our expertise about the amount of homework students receive in New York independent and highly-selective public schools. Essentially, our quote was that over the past decade we have seen a trend towards heavier homework loads.

Reading the article, we had a strong reaction to the idea that books and homework might be implicated as the primary culprit behind myopia. While there is no doubt that the ophthalmologist has anecdotal experiences pointing to increased myopia in his clientele, we agree with others sited in the article who indicate that more than student workload needs to be taken into account. From a brief look at the research, we can see that myopia is on the rise in far larger populations than NYC students. Factors, both genetic and environmental, are being considered.

Our take is this: In the ultra competitive New York private school environment, there are stresses of both the physical and mental variety, one of which is surely ocular strain. A few years down the road, carpal tunnel may be the next teenage epidemic. And while this is not the forum to get in the middle of the homework debate, it goes without saying that more homework is not necessarily better: the purpose of homework is to reinforce learning and build academic independence, not keep kids busy late into the night.

Ultimately, our kids are spending too much time in front of technological gadgets that absorb their gazes: computers, TVs, cell phones, video games. Much of the exposure comes from work related to school but much of it does not. We, as parents and educators, need to monitor the amount of "screen time" our children are getting and make sure there are substantial breaks from it during each day. Our kids need more time outside playing and moving their bodies . . . and having a chance to experience their youth.

Read the original article:

Tags: Health Issues, Homework, Parenting Advice, Stress and Anxiety
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