Parul Sevashram Hospital

Challenges Of Long-Term Exposure To Screens

From small children to working adults to the elderly, most of us get a significant amount of daily screen time from our various digital gadgets. Unfortunately, we consume so much stuff on our digital devices that it’s easy to overlook the harmful consequences of excessive screen time. 

However, with evidence indicating that excessive screen usage can impede brain development or even lead to long-term medical disorders such as diabetes, it’s time to stop disregarding the dangers of screen addiction. Too much screen time can be dangerous, whether the entire family sits around staring at their smartphones or you keep the TV on in the background.

Here are a few ways that spending too much time in front of a screen might harm your health:

  • Obesity: Spending too much time sitting, such as playing video games or watching TV, can be a risk factor for obesity. Heart health is also impacted, leading to an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
  • Sleep Issues: The light emitted by electronic gadgets disrupts the brain’s sleep cycle and can prevent you from getting a decent night’s sleep. Keep screens out of the bedroom and avoid them for at least an hour before bed to sleep better.
  • Persisting Neck And Back Pain: Excessive screen usage can cause bad posture, resulting in persistent neck, shoulder, and back pain. Instead of sitting, take breaks to walk around, stand, or stretch. Ensure your chair has adequate back support and the device is at eye level.
  • Anxiety and Depression: All of your screen time can have a negative impact on your mental and emotional well-being. According to experts, increased screen time and sadness may be linked, as well as increased suicidal behaviour and a decreased capacity to interpret emotions in general.
  • Vision Issues: Long periods of staring at a screen can result in “computer vision syndrome.” You’ve undoubtedly experienced the following symptoms: strained, dry eyes, impaired vision, and headaches. Neck and shoulder pain can also be caused by poor posture.

 

The brain undergoes significant changes during the preteen and adolescent years. It could explain why tweens and teens are particularly vulnerable to the effects of screen usage on brain function and mental well-being.

  • Learning: According to one study, children and young adults who spend a lot of time watching TV and playing video games are twice as likely to have attention issues. Anything that interferes with attention interferes with learning. 
  • Self-confidence: More time spent watching videos or other digital content equals less time spent exploring and producing their own experiences, tales, or art. The key to developing self-competence and self-confidence is cultivating attributes beneficial to good relationships and overall well-being.
  • Social Skills: Online encounters can develop community while also encouraging communication and creativity. However, as Screenagers points out, tweens and adolescents may hide behind a screen to avoid unpleasant or complex interactions, such as confronting a crush or making new acquaintances. Rather than challenge themselves to do that in person, they go to the screen for a diversion. A lack of face-to-face engagement might also contribute to online bullying.
  • Emotions and personality: Imaging studies have revealed that internet and game addiction can reduce brain regions important for planning and executive functions, empathy, compassion, and impulse control.

 

We have few real-life encounters when we are engrossed with what is going-on on the screen. It could result in increased anti-social behaviour and feelings of withdrawal. When youngsters spend time on digital gadgets instead of playing with their peers, they miss out on a critical opportunity to learn important social skills. 

One of the most concerning outcomes of excessive screen usage is that it causes your brain to get addicted. It is because the rush of pleasure-inducing dopamine we get from utilising our digital devices affects our brain’s reward centre, making us want more insidiously. This is why so many of us are caught in a cycle of screen addiction.

Limiting your screen time to a few hours per day may be unrealistic, but these techniques can help you and your family reduce screen time. Set a time for your entire family to disconnect from the phone, TV, and computer. When everyone agrees to lay down their devices, it allows your family to spend valuable time together. 

There are also methods available to filter or block inappropriate content. You can even establish daily screen time limitations that will lock your children out of apps once a certain amount of time has passed. Another step you might take is to optimise your environment to meet your objectives. 

Extrinsic measures can keep you on track by reducing temptation and teaching yourself new ways to enjoy life, such as keeping your smartphone out of the bedroom, designating the dining table as a screen-free zone, and exploring alternate activities to de-stress.

The less time you spend staring at your devices, you will have more time for family and friends!