Everyone uses screens for at least a small portion of the day, but many people use them almost non-stop. From the TV to a laptop to smartphones and tablets, this all adds up to many, many hours spent staring at a screen. In a lot of instances, this may be necessary for work, for socializing, even for relaxing, but that doesn’t mean that too much of it is good for us. In fact, in some cases, it can be very bad indeed.
There are still studies ongoing that are focused on determining exactly how bad these hours of screen time are. These particular studies are not completely established, but the findings so far certainly suggest that we should all cut down it at all possible. Here are some of the reasons why.
It’s Bad For Your Health
Screen time is bad for your health in a number of different ways, but perhaps the most obvious is your level of fitness and your weight. When you are using your screens, it’s most likely that you will be in a sedentary position, either sitting at a desk or on a sofa or perhaps lying down in bed. Where you are, whatever you are doing, the lack of physical activity can mean that you just aren’t getting enough exercise. Not only that, but your circulation can be affected because you aren’t moving around enough. The key to a healthy amount of screen time, in this case, is to limit yourself to a shorter amount of time each day and use the rest of the time you would have been in front of the screen exercising.
If this is not possible due to work, then you should leave your desk and walk around the office – or, better yet, outside – every hour or so to ensure your circulation isn’t restricted.
Finally, your eyes can be affected by too much screen time too. When you’re looking at a screen, the eye blinks far less than it would normally do, and this can lead to dry eyes which can be extremely sore and uncomfortable. The best thing to do is, as mentioned above, take regular breaks from your screen. If the condition is serious, your doctor may prescribe Restasis. Do some research if you’re thinking is there a generic for Restasis, for example, which can help, although it is still best to limit your screen time.
Your Brain Can Suffer
We know that too much screen time can cause us physical damage and harm, but it can also be an issue when it comes to your brain’s performance too. This could be due to the way that this technology ‘uses’ the brain and teaches it to work. If you want your memory to improve and you want to have your brain working at its very best, reducing screen time is the way to do it. On top of this, you can also do brain training games, or perhaps just enjoy a good book or find a hobby to stimulate your brain.
It’s true that there are apps and games that can be used on our devices that are for brain enhancement too, and these can be useful but not if they make you use even more of your time up using a screen!
Try and exercise your brain with some puzzles that don’t require a screen, such as Sudoku. Taking time out to challenge your brain in a different way might open your eyes to what’s out there.
You Can’t Process Body Language
When you spend too much time on your screen, you can lose a human’s innate ability to process non-verbal clues. This, in particular, refers to body language and about what people mean when they are speaking to you, or even when they are simply in the same room as you. When people are not using their screens, or when they have had enough of a break, they seem – studies show – to be able to process these non-verbal clues a lot better, and are able to understand the emotional information that other people are trying to communicate.
When you are able to process non-verbal clues, you are less likely to find that you feel awkward in a social situation. It also means that you can pick up on opportunities that you might have missed otherwise, and these can be extremely useful in both your career and personal life.
In fact, too much screen time can inhibit your ability to communicate in a verbal way too. When you are spending time online on your laptop or tablet, for example, you won’t be communicating with people in a verbal way; instead, you’ll either be communicating through text or not at all. This can be another reason why social situations can become difficult, and ironically this means that you might go back and find refuge in your screens.
You Don’t Sleep Well
Too much screen time can seriously confuse your body and in particular your sleep patterns and circadian rhythm. That means you might find it extremely difficult to get to sleep when you go to bed. If you have to be up at a certain time for work, this usually means you won’t be getting enough sleep, and that is bad for your health when it becomes a chronic problem. Around seven to eight hours a night is recommended. Less sleep can affect your overall work ethic, memory, and energy to seize the day. On top of that, you will feel physically drained and tired, and that means you won’t be as productive as you could be either at work or school. This overtime could lead to a detrimental pattern forming that could, in turn, affect your productivity on a larger scale, in terms of results at school or work. Reducing your screen time and increasing the length of time you sleep each night will help you in all aspects of your life.
Planning Becomes Difficult
If you’ve been wondering why your ability to make plans seems to have deserted you and you can no longer process times and dates as well as you once did, this could be because of the amount of screen time you are currently having. Studies have shown that those who spend a lot of time in front of their screens, particularly those who play lots of video games, tend to have less brain function in their frontal lobes. One of the problems that this causes is your ability to plan ahead properly.
Planning your day to day life is something that can help us immensely. We need to know what we can get done and when we need to understand how much money is in the bank. We also need to be able to plan things even further ahead such as vacations and breaks away, for example.
Impulse Control Is Affected
Impulse control is something that is best to be mastered in order to lead a healthy, happy life. When you spend too much time on your screens, that ability to keep your impulses under control can be negatively affected. Although this doesn’t sound too terrible, it can lead to overspending on items you want just because you can, or overeating because you just can’t stop yourself when things look good. It can also mean that you make hasty decisions without taking the time to think things through, and that can lead to disastrous results.
When you can control your impulses better, you will step back before making a decision and assess the situation before choosing what to do. You will also be able to stop eating when you are full, no matter how good everything tasted, because you know that’s good for you. Plus, you’ll only spend what you can afford to because you will have waited for a moment before simply buying whatever it is you want.
It Can Affect Your Mental Health
It has been documented that those who spend more time in front of their screens and in particular watching too much TV have a higher incidence of developing depression. This could be because, as mentioned above, screen time means you’re not interacting with other people, and this can lead to loneliness. Even if you don’t notice, your subconscious might, and loneliness can be one of the many causes of depression.
Not only that, but watching TV shows can give you an unrealistic idea of what life ‘should’ be like, and if yours doesn’t match up you may feel as though you are not good enough. As well as this, TV can be violent and frightening, offering up a view of the world that is skewed in many ways. It is best to ensure you have a balance, as this way you can still have some downtime, but you are not spending all of your time tapped into a screen or program. Real life relationships and time spent with peers, and loved ones is much more beneficial to your health.