The health issues caused by too much screen time

Technology has truly immersed itself into our everyday lives — and we don’t seem to be complaining. Yes, everyone you meet nowadays says, ‘the TV is never on in our house,’ but that is because they are either perusing through Facebook whilst their child entertains themselves with the latest interactive app on their iPad, or the family is all gathered round watching the latest series on Netflix. We wake up we look at a screen, we go to bed, we look at a screen. 

As much as we may not like to admit it, for the vast majority of us, our ‘screen’ is the only constant in our lives. The print media industry has perhaps suffered the most through digitilisation, with reports suggesting the Daily Mail’s circulation figures had dropped by around 11% between 2017 and 2018. Take a business for consideration, twenty years ago and it would have been unimaginable to have a variety of brochures online – now the sheer amount of digital marketing materials has engulfed that of their printed counterparts. 

Believe it or not, it’s thought that Brits who work in offices are on their computers for around 1,700 hours per year. That’s not include time spent at home! 

Understanding health

Illnesses come from an array of areas, but not a lot of people believe that they can stem from endless hours of screen time. Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is also known as digital eye strain and caused by prolonged periods of looking at electronic devices such as computers, tablets and phones. The syndrome can result in several symptoms including: 

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain

Why is this the case?

Eyes are made to work harder when they spend too much time looking at a screen. Unlike reading from a book or a newspaper, in which the words are more distinguished and sharply defined, the contrast on a screen is significantly reduced and the likes of glare bouncing back from the screen poses more of a threat to an uninterrupted view.

People who have bad eye sight will likely suffer from CVS. Studies have found that even those who don’t usually require a general eye prescription may benefit from glasses specifically designed for use in front of the screen to prevent damage. CVS can be treated through the administration of solution although often simply adjusting the way you view your screen can owe to a reduction in damage to the eye. Simple changes, such as altering your display settings, regularly exercising your eyes, supporting your eye health with some supplements and taking frequent breaks from staring at the screen can all prevent the strain caused. Most employers should also have guidelines instructing you on how to set up your workstation appropriately. 

Changing your game

Scientific research has shown that by reading from a physical book or newspaper as opposed to an e-book or your digital copy, you absorb more information. This owes to two main reasons. Firstly, you get less distracted, mostly due to the fact the internet isn’t right at your fingers and secondly, having the material in your hands help you visualise just how much you’ve read. There’s no excuse either, as the book printing market is still lucrative. Similarly, if you’ve been working in a job all day that involves focusing on a computer screen and your equating to that aforementioned 1,700 hours, then use the evenings to give your eyes a rest. Findings suggest that using a blue light before sleep can disrupt with your melatonin and circadian cycles, making the process of getting to sleep a whole lot harder. 

On the other hand, reading some print is deemed an age-old remedy for those struggling with getting some shut eye. No one is proposing that we scrap all the digital technologies that make our day-to-day life so much better, however it is worth reassessing the time spent looking at a screen and whether it essential – looking at the same posts repeatedly isn’t.

With new smartphone features, begin to keep track of how much time you’re spending on different apps and make the right choices to reduce it.

Article researched and produced by book printing services provider, Where The Trade Buys.