Negative effects of too much screen time

Liv Butler
Authored by Liv Butler
Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2024 - 22:18

Around 98% of all adults between the ages of 18-24 have a smartphone. With so much technology in our back pocket, it can be hard to stop the doom-scrolling and put your phone down.

While modern technology has undeniable benefits, excessive screen time can have a significant negative impact on our physical and mental well-being. We explore the potential downsides of screen time and offer some tips to help you reduce it below.

What are the negative effects of screen time?

Although scrolling on Instagram or staring at your computer might seem harmless, there are some quite shocking implications if you continue to do so. This includes:  

  • Eye strain: Staring at a screen can disrupt the body’s natural blinking pattern. This can cause dry, itchy eyes, blurred vision and headaches.  
  • Poor sleep: The blue light emitted by screens suppresses melatonin production, a hormone crucial for sleep regulation. This can result in difficulty falling asleep and fatigue.
  • Musculoskeletal problems: Poor posture while using devices can lead to neck, shoulder and back pain.
  • Weight gain: Technology often displaces physical activity. Additionally, exposure to food advertising on screens can trigger unhealthy snacking habits. This is believed to be one of the reasons why 64% of adults are overweight or obese.
  • Poor mental health: Studies suggest that there is a direct correlation between excessive screen time and poor mental health, especially in children and younger individuals.
  • Reduced attention span: Exposure to rapidly changing visuals may contribute to attention difficulties and decreased focus.

How to take care of your eyes when looking at a screen

It’s not all doom and gloom. If you need to spend hours looking at a screen for work, there are some ways to protect your eyes:

  • Practice the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen for 20 seconds and focus on something 20 feet away. This allows your eyes to refocus and relax.
  • Turn down your brightness: Reduce brightness and adjust your contrast to a comfortable level. If you can, try to avoid using your devices in overly dark environments.
  • Invest in some blue light filters: Incorporate these into your settings or buy some special glasses to minimise blue light exposure.  
  • Make sure your eyes are in good health: Make sure that your eyes aren’t working overtime by having regular eye examinations. If you’ve got astigmatism, make sure you invest in specialist toric lenses to minimise eye strain. 

How to manage screen time

If you’re keen to reduce your screen time, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, try to set weekly or daily limits for phone and computer usage and stick to these. If your phone is your kryptonite, you can use in-built features or apps to set limits.

You should also try to designate tech-free zones in your home. As a bare minimum, you should have your bedroom as a digitally void area so you can relax and fall asleep without distractions.

By understanding the potential downsides of excessive screen time, you can take proactive steps to reduce your screen time and reap the benefits.

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