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Health & Medicine

How All That Screen Time Affects Your Health

— April 26, 2019

Technology has given us many conveniences. However, the old saying “You can get too much of a good thing” is true when it comes to screen time,.

Today, most jobs and a huge amount of school work are bound to screens. While we can’t simply give them up during our professional lives, we can reduce their use in our free time. But, is too much screen time really that dangerous for your health? The answer is yes, yes it is! Here are all the ways that screen time can affect your health, both physical and mental. 

It makes us obese

Did you know that as little as two hours a day of watching TV can boost your weight and increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease? The reason behind this is the fact that when you stare at the screen, you’re most likely sedentary, you sleep worse and develop bad eating habits all of which affect weight.

It restructures our brains

According to Psychology Today, one of the scariest parts of too much screen time is the fact that it can restructure the matter that builds your brain. While this doesn’t apply to everyone (it’s mostly visible in people with screen addiction), all people who use their devices heavily experience some version of the problem. What happens with excessive screen usage is that it causes gray matter to shrink and white matter to develop communication problems, it triggers cravings and results in impaired cognitive performance. None of these will help you perform well in school, college, or work! 

It causes eye strain

Do you remember what your parents used to tell you about staring at the screen the entire day? Well, they were right! While your eyes won’t turn square, too much screen time is definitely bad for your visual organs. Harsh blue light from screens can damage the retina and cause eye strain. What you can do to ensure your eyes are healthy is book an eye test every year or two. Your eye test will ensure you’re equipped with appropriate glasses or contacts that will allow you to see well without strain. Additionally, you can start practicing 20-20-20 rule (look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes of screen time). This will give your eyes a nice little rest. 

It affects our ability to process emotions

Young boy wearing headphones playing computer game; image by Alex Haney, via
Young boy wearing headphones playing computer game; image by Alex Haney, via

This is an interesting effect of screen time. Can screen usage inhibit the emotional development of children? It turns out that the lack of face-to-face interaction in favor of social media can impact one’s ability to process emotion. When young children learn that not everything brings immediate stimuli response like the one you get when you interact with a touchscreen, the emotions can get too hard to handle. While the results of the research aren’t yet studied in depth, the idea isn’t too far-flung. 

It disrupts sleep

Blue light from phones, tablets and laptops has a serious effect on human sleep patterns. When you use screens while in bed, your brain mistakes the light for the sun and tends to keep your mind active and anxious. This brings difficulties in falling asleep and staying asleep as well as many other health related issues caused by sleep deprivation. These health issues can cause chemical imbalance and further affect your sleep creating a vicious cycle. So, make sure to create a healthy sleep schedule and routine. Leave screens in your living room, try meditation before bed and go to sleep at the same time every night. This will bring your circadian rhythm to normal and provide you with better sleep. 

It ruins posture

Sitting for hours at a time, especially in front of touchscreen devices, can greatly affect your posture. This can cause neck and shoulder pain, back issues like scoliosis and even pain in legs and hands. If you have to use a keyboard and mouse that are not adjusted properly, it can cause serious strain and inflammation in your arms, wrists and hands. So, if you have to sit behind a screen, make sure you have a good chair and desk, well-adjusted equipment, and plenty of break opportunities. 

It affects learning

Children and young adults who spend more than six hours a day with TV, smartphone and video games are more likely to suffer from any type of attention disorders. And, anything that affects your ability to focus will affect your ability to learn. So, make sure to limit your child’s screen time and allow them to gain real knowledge. 

It lowers self-confidence 

People who spend too much time on devices and in the virtual world, have less time to explore the real world and create unique experiences, stories and art of their own. This can lower self-confidence and self-competence, which are both very important for maintaining healthy relationships, keeping jobs, and staying overall healthy. 

Reducing screen time can be a hard task, but once you give them up (during your free time at least), you’ll notice so many benefits that you won’t want to go back to your bad screen usage habits every again! 

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