The amount of time spent on screens is increasing. Your health may suffer if you spend too much time watching television and scrolling on your phone. Researchers estimate the average American spends nearly 24 hours a week online. Anxiety, poor posture, sleep problems, weight gain, heart disease risk, and even possible brain damage can be caused by too much screen time.
Below, we will be looking at the effects screen time has on your physical health and how you can reduce your screen time.
What Does “Screen Time” Mean?
According to Cambridge, Screen time is the amount of time someone spends looking at an electronic device with a screen, such as a computer or television.
Today’s technology allows children to access information and opportunities that used to be unavailable to them. In addition to being overstimulated, children (and adults) can lose track of other fun and healthy activities.
We may not be surprised to find that passive activities are hindering more of our physical movement due to the growing amount of screen time we are spending in our daily lives.
In What Ways Does Screen Time Affect The Body’s Physical Health?
By spending more time on screens, we have less time to engage in activities that promote health. The most crucial question is, “What is screen time displacing?”. Are you displacing sleep, communicating with family members, exploring the world, and exercising?”
Let’s take a look at some of the physical health effects screen time has on our bodies.
Screen time can give you eye, ear, neck, shoulder, back, wrist, and forearm pain.
Your body can be physically harmed by too much screen time. As a result, vision problems, back and neck pain from constantly looking at a device, and hearing loss from wearing headphones with a device are all possible.
Looking down, for instance, puts extra stress on your neck. You put your spine in an unnatural position which strains the muscles, nerves, and ligaments (also known as “text neck“). You may experience cramping or soreness throughout your wrists, fingers, and forearms if you spend a lot of time texting, typing, or looking things up on the internet. Furthermore, looking at a screen for long periods can result in dry eyes, blurred or strained vision, and headaches.
Consider standing, walking, or stretching instead of sitting for long periods. Ensure your chair, couch, or sitting position provides adequate back support. Additionally, keep a screen or device closer to your eyes and pointing straight ahead when you look at it.
Screen Time can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Researchers in one study of 177,000 students found that insufficient sleep led to weight gain in addition to screen time. It’s a vicious cycle. No matter what kind of screen is used, spending a lot of time in front of it promotes sitting. As long as your eyes are on a screen, you’re likely to consume food and fail to make healthy choices mindlessly.
Inactivity caused by screen time affects heart health as well. As a result, you may be more prone to conditions such as diabetes or become more likely to experience symptoms such as high blood pressure or cholesterol. Some researchers have even claimed that excessive television watching can shorten your lifespan.
Studies have shown that sitting for long periods while using digital devices can raise blood sugar and insulin levels and lead to fat accumulation in the blood.
Fortunately, the solution to this problem is relatively simple. Establish and stick to an exercise routine that keeps you strong. It is impossible to counteract hours of screen time with one workout, but regularly moving your body can give your body a break. This will result in a healthier lifestyle and better overall health.
You rewire your brain badly when you spend so much time in front of the screen.
Yes, it’s true. Your brain suffers from damage and dysfunction due to screen addiction. For example, too much screen time causes your brain to shrink. As a result, you are less likely to plan, prioritize, manage impulses, develop compassion for others, and communicate from one lobe to another, ultimately slowing down cognitive signal transmission.
For children, a study published in 2017 reached a similar conclusion. Brain connectivity declines when we spend time on screens while reading a book does the opposite.
What healthy habits can we have when we’re surrounded by screens constantly?
- Phone-Free Zones – Make sure you take time away from your phone each day. To encourage family time at meals and improve sleep quality, make it a rule that phones are not allowed at the dinner table or in the bedroom.
- 20-20-20 Rule – Every time you spend 20 minutes watching a screen, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. By following this rule, you can reduce the effects of prolonged screen time on your eyes.
- Fun Away From the Screen – You can play a board game, assemble a puzzle, read a book, or even go outside! The possibilities are endless when you don’t have to sit in front of a computer or phone. In addition to improving your physical health, it can also benefit your mental health!
- Monitor Your Posture – Whenever you glance at your phone or computer, make sure you are monitoring your posture. You should view your phone or computer at an angle of 15 degrees or less. Keeping your neck and back in a neutral position will reduce potential back and neck pain. You can correct your posture with the help of a physical therapist.
We must observe how technology and screens affect our everyday lives and take action to better our health habits as they become more prevalent.
It is essential to understand that some of these issues may be caused by factors other than excessive screen time. You should consult your physician. By discussing your physical health with a physician, you can determine whether screen time only compromises your health or if an underlying condition is at play.