Whether it’s for work, entertainment, or education, many of us today are glued to our laptops and computer screens.

In a digital era, most of our jobs and activities are computer-related and dependent on the internet. It’s no wonder that computers, phones, and tablets have become an indispensable part of our lives.

However, along with access to valuable content, the flood of information available on social media networks and the internet has also led to unhealthy dependencies and addictions to technology.

From disturbed sleep patterns to improper postures to eye problems, the consequences of excess screen time can be detrimental to our overall wellbeing.

In this article, we take a closer look at how extended screen times can affect your health and what you can do about it.

 

 

Eye Strain

Continuously staring at your computer screen can take a toll on your eyesight and put it under terrible stress.

Bright light, flickering images, and glare from the computer screen can cause computer vision syndrome with symptoms like blurry vision, dry, itchy, red eyes, double vision, eye strain or eye fatigue, and headaches.

Forgetting to blink while focusing on your screen can lead to dry eyes and irritation.

Fortunately, most of these symptoms are temporary and can be cured or prevented with some preventive measures and remedies.

 

What You Can Do

  • Avoid direct light sources.
  • Tilt your screen to reduce glare.
  • Lower your screen brightness and contrast when in a dark room.
  • Use a quality display with sufficient size.
  • Frequently look away from the screen and keep blinking.
  • Go for regular eye check-ups especially if you have headaches or blurred vision.

 

Injuries Related To Poor Posture

Headaches, shoulder, arm, back, and neck pain are common computer-related injuries caused by poor posture and sitting for long hours.

Poor posture can eventually lead to permanent issues like muscle soreness and muscle fatigue due to reduced blood circulation in veins and muscles which can be hazardous to your health.

 

What You Can Do

  • Get an ergonomic chair and an adjustable desk that is specifically designed for computer use.
  • Keep your computer screen at eye level or slightly below it.
  • Place your keyboard in an appropriate position and let your elbows rest comfortably.
  • Stand often, take frequent short breaks, perform stretching exercises, and go for walks.

 

Sleep Disturbances

Heavy computer and phone use are directly linked to sleep disturbances and insomnia.

Studies have shown that exposing your eyes to a digital screen an hour or two before bed can affect your sleep and impact your mood the next day.

The artificial blue light emitted by digital devices tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime and suppresses the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.

This can interfere with your brain’s sleep cycle and make it harder for you to fall asleep. It can also keep you from having a restful sleep and even cause insomnia.

 

What You Can Do

  • Stop using electronic blue light-emitting devices an hour or two before bedtime.
  • Wind down for the night with gentle activities like reading a book, doing mild stretches, or taking a hot shower.
  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
  • Turn off phone and tablet notifications at night.

 

 

Repetitive Stress Injury

Repetitive stress injuries are caused by frequent physical movements and the overuse of certain muscles, nerves, and tendons. It’s a severe effect of bad posture that generally affects the hands, wrists, and elbows of computer users and frequently leads to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Some of its symptoms are swelling, pain, weakness, numbness, and stiffness of the joints. It can also cause pain in your shoulders, neck, or anywhere from your shoulders to your fingers.

 

What You Can Do

  • Adjust your mouse beside the keyboard in such a way that you’ll need to move your entire arm and not just your wrist to operate it.
  • Don’t keep your wrist fixed in a single position while typing. Keep them flexible.
  • When you’re not using your mouse or typing, relax your arms and stretch them.
  • Use an ergonomic mouse.
  • Adjust your posture and avoid exerting excess force while using the keyboard or mouse.

 

 

Chronic Health Diseases

Sitting for long hours on your laptop is associated with chronic illnesses like type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Studies show that spending excessive time on digital devices can spike insulin levels in your body. It can also increase the risk of strokes due to fat accumulation in the bloodstream.

Moreover, the sedentary lifestyle that comes with prolonged use of computers without adequate physical activity is one of the major causes of obesity.

 

What You Can Do

  • Take a break from sitting every half hour and move around.
  • Use a standing desk or improvise with a high table or counter.
  • Employ walking meetings instead of sitting in a conference room.
  • Avoid fatty food while working and opt for nutritious snacks instead.

 

Psychological And Emotional Effects Of Technology

Technology has a tremendous influence on our emotions and behavior. Spending too much time in front of computers while at work can increase the pressure we feel in our offices and cause stress.

When left untreated, this type of stress can lead to dizziness, trouble focusing, decreased attention span, and burnout.

In addition, when we spend too much time on our computers, it can lead to feelings of anxiety and isolation. This is because excessive computer use takes us away from opportunities to connect with friends and family.

 

Negative Effects Of Using Social Media Before Bed

Several studies have linked anxiety, depression, and irritability with higher levels of device usage.

Checking social media sites like Facebook and Instagram before bed can lead to poor sleep quality due to their overly stimulating content. Social media has the potential to trigger a wide range of emotions that can make it harder to fall asleep and can shorten your sleep time.

 

What You Can Do

  • Take frequent breaks and spend them taking walks or interacting with colleagues. When at home, make it a point to interact with friends and family.
  • Refrain from using social media sites before sleeping.

 

 

Conclusion

Computers, phones, and other forms of technology can potentially cause several health issues, however, they’re an indispensable part of our modern lives.

The key is balance.

Proactively taking steps to improve your lifestyle with a few simple changes in your habits and routine can go a long way in preventing health issues and illnesses.

If your work demands long hours of sitting at your desk, take frequent short breaks, get up to walk, and stretch at least once an hour. Strive for a healthy diet and be conscious about your posture while using the computer.

Lastly, be mindful about engaging in relaxing activities, and don’t forget to interact with other people to help maintain your overall wellbeing.

Related Info

References:

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/teens-and-sleep/screen-time-and-insomnia-for-teens

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20355603

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28288985/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7320888/