There’s no doubt that technology has made such a huge impact in all areas of our modern-day life. However, humans have the tendency to take things too far to the extent where they turn against us. If you take a look around you right now, there’s a good chance that every single person you see is mindlessly staring at screens. Be it a phone, tablet, or laptop, it’s a disturbing phenomenon that only a few grasp its immensity and the catastrophic consequences it can have in the long run. For many years, extended screen time was believed to only have negative side-effects on eyesight, but that’s only half the truth. In fact, the deterioration of eyesight is considered to be the least of the problems because in most cases the physical damage is fixable. However, there are other more complicated issues that have to do with your mental and emotional health and overall well-being. Continue reading below to understand more about the influence of displays on our wellbeing. Take note of these 6 side-effects.
Tech-neck has become one of the most common ailments of the decade. The name is pretty self-explanatory and this is something that we’re all guilty of. The way we hold our phones and strain our necks looking down wreaks havoc on our posture and throws it completely out of whack. Some of the most common symptoms of tech-neck include upper back and shoulder aches, and upper body stiffness and headaches. We usually dismiss this initially bearable pain by doing some shoulder shrugs and a few neck rolls, but that’s rarely enough. Over time, tech-necks can cause irreversible spinal damage, so we need to take it more seriously despite its less morbid name. For starters, it goes without saying that we have to limit our screen time whenever possible. In addition, incorporating certain posture-improving exercises can do wonders to reverse the effects of tech-neck. The yoga-inspired postures include an upward-facing dog where one lies face down with the legs extended and pushes the torso upwards by extending the arms keeping them tucked in alongside the body. Another exercise is bird-dog where one starts on all-fours and extends one leg backward with the alternating arm extended forward, then holding the position for a few seconds before switching.
Most of the time this is the first sign that we’re spending a little too much time looking at displays. Vision deterioration ranges from a slight sting in the eyes all the way to significant loss of eyesight. We usually blink less when we are looking at our screens, this causes our eyes to over-dry which, if untreated, can lead to blurry vision and poor focus. Furthermore, digital screens can also cause retinal damage. Blue light is to blame for this common side-effect. When they’re switched on, digital screens emit blue light that has the ability to reach all the way to the back of our eyes where the retina is located. Kids more than adults are susceptible to the destructive effects blue light has on light-sensitive cells in the retina. However, people in the UK are turning to blue light glasses as the customer reviews on blockbluelight.co.uk show that this might be the answer to canceling the damaging effects of blue light rays. Some raved about the comfort that they have felt ever since they started using blue light glasses and don’t know how they did without them before. While others claimed that the glasses not only preserved their eyesight but also prevented headaches and gave them back their good night’s sleep.
3. Interrupted Sleep
When night time comes, our bodies take it as a sign to start releasing melatonin which is the hormone responsible for winding down and getting the body ready to close off the day. However, screens’ blue light interrupts this process and tricks the body to stay alert for longer than it actually needs to. Many studies have shown that there’s an undeniable correlation between looking at display screens at night and struggling with interrupted sleep cycles. And the lack of sleep leads to harmful effects on our bodies and minds. We become irritable and always on the edge, can hardly concentrate and as the issue persists, depression is not an uncommon result. Luckily, practicing healthy bedtime habits can treat this cruel side-effect. Stowing away all screens a good few hours before bedtime and maintaining a healthy diet will suffice.
Believe it or not, extended screen time can lead to obesity. When we waste hours on end sitting in front of the TV and munching on all sorts of unhealthy snacks, gaining weight is a natural consequence. Kids nowadays prefer to stay crammed indoors playing video games instead of playing outside in the fresh air. The only way to protect ourselves against this menace is to make the conscious decision to shut down our monitors and step outside for at least 30 minutes a day.
5. Anxiety and Depression
We are social beings by nature, even the most introverted of us. When we ignore the innate need to connect with other humans and dedicate all our waking hours to machines, our systems literally shut down. This unnatural isolation can lead to social anxiety where one fails and even sometimes fears to interact with other people in any context. If it goes unaddressed, episodes of anxiety might eventually lead to clinical depression which, in turn, can trigger suicidal behaviors, especially among teenagers. The way to deal with this is to practice and teach our kids how to mindfully use screens without jeopardizing their mental and emotional wellbeing. This can be through limiting screen time first and then sifting through frequently-used websites and social media platforms to turn them into a ‘safer’ space that’s bully-free, supportive, age-appropriate, and so on.
This stems from the previously discussed side-effects, anxiety, and depression. However, it’s more of a shared problem than an individual one. When a family of four barely gets to see one another, have dinner together, or merely sit for a normal conversation, this affects the social structure. We have to learn how and when to put away the screens and remember how to enjoy each others’ company.
After reading the above, one might start thinking that perhaps ‘technology’ is the devil. We were doing just fine with our house-visits and monthly long-distance phone calls. However, we can’t blame our own failure to regulate the use of display screens on anyone or anything else but ourselves. Like everything in life, it’s our responsibility to take stock of our actions and adjust accordingly.