Whether we are on our computers at work or watching tv in the evening, spending too long on our gadgets is something we are all guilty of. While screen time is often unavoidable in today’s modern world, too much screen time can start to have an impact on our health over time.
Did you know that this is both physically and mentally detrimental? Read on to see what effects too much screen time can do on your health if you spend hours each day, every week, on devices.
It can impact your cognitive abilities
While too much screen time can impact our physical health quite a lot, another consequence is the effect that it has on our mental health. It has been suggested that the effects of too much screen time can include having an impact on the size of your brain’s grey matter.
This part of your body is essential for your cognitive functioning, so allowing it to shrink through excessive use of your smartphone has been shown to lead to poorer concentration, a lack of impulse control, slower information processing, and a weaker memory.
Sedentary activity can lead to obesity
One of the most significant effects of too much screen time is how the sedentary activity of sitting with our phones or TVs can lead to obesity. Although we may use our phones on the go, most of our screen time will involve us sitting down often for hours at a time.
This inactivity is concerning given how much many of us spend on screens each day. For example, Uswitch’s 2022 screen time report found that the average screen time for UK adults per day was now up to 5 hours per day on top of any work relating to screens.
If UK adults are spending over 8 hours per week on social media, this behaviour can lead to obesity in the long run. Now that TV bingeing is heavily popular, on average UK adults are now even spending 24 hours per week watching TV.
Since watching tv, scrolling on our phones, and playing video games, often involve sitting down for long periods of time, this can be a risk factor linked to obesity. Heart health is also affected by sedentary activity and can increase both cholesterol and blood pressure.
Furthermore, the effects of too much screen time can include how we are affected by TV adverts. For example, the presence of junk food commercials aired between shows can contribute to eating unhealthy food.
It can cause a lot of physical health implications
If people gain a lot of weight due to watching television, they may also become vulnerable to several other health conditions too. Type two diabetes and heart disease are more likely to affect someone who is obese, as well as bad posture if you are leaning forward a lot to see the smaller details on your screens.
Too much screen time on such a regular basis can also start to have an impact on the quality of your eyesight. When working on computers or scrolling through social media, many of us forget to take regular breaks from devices, or even forget to blink frequently too.
Any hours of screen time can start to impact your eyes and lead to eye strain, blurry vision, or red and dry eyes. Therefore, minimising screen time by using the 20-20-20 rule is a useful way to improve your eye health.
It can impact children’s development skills
Now, a lot of small children are interacting with screens more than ever. Too much screen time at a young age can delay learning in children, desensitise them and affect their emotional judgment, and also impair their social skills. Particularly when they are still developing, youngsters substituting their social lives for screen time can be extremely worrying as they are missing out on essential skills which can only be developed through human-to-human interactions.
Exposure to violent media content can also impact the way young children process emotions and they could start to become desensitised to it. As well as this, the effects of too much screen time can also impact a child’s learning as they are not as physically active or engaged with watching TV or scrolling on devices as they would be with other activities.
The effects of too much screen time involve sleep disruption and insomnia
Have you ever noticed that you have difficulty falling asleep at night after an extensive phone use session? This is because the blue light from your smartphone or tablet directly interferes with the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. This is one of the health problems that are easily rectifiable by getting into better sleep routine habits.
While we may often use our phones to keep ourselves occupied on our work commute, bedtime should be a time for relaxing and unwinding, not for stimulation. Therefore, several hours before you go to bed, do not use your phone, or if this is necessary for any reason, turn down the brightness of your screen. If you are highly disciplined and want a challenge, try implementing a new rule wherein your phone stays out of your bedroom altogether.
This way, you will be less inclined to use it to feed into those addictive impulses and focus on your health instead.
In an era like the one today, which is catering more and more to our excessive need for smartphones and internet usage, it seems as if our growing dependency on the digital age is a subconscious, vicious cycle. Whilst the effects of screens on our physical and mental well-being can sound frightening, by simply cutting down on your usage, you will greatly eliminate any risks associated with the points above.