Here are the Effects of Screen Time on the Body
Category: Healthy Living
Posted on June 8, 2021
Scott is passionate about health and wellness, and enjoys writing on various topic surrounding these fields. Scott lives in Seattle and spends his free time restoring old furniture and playing pickleball with his friends.
Did you know that, according to Tech Jury, the majority of mobile phone users check their phone every day up to 63 times? Additionally, the average amount of screen time Americans spend on their phones daily is over 5 hours.
If you spend a similar amount on your phone, computer, or tablet, then you might be worried about the effects of screen time on your body.
Maybe you feel like you can’t wake up without checking your phone first thing every day. Or maybe you have trouble falling asleep at night after you’ve spent twenty minutes scrolling through your phone.
These are all negative effects of screen time, and it’s easy for these effects to get out of control. This can be worrying.
Fortunately, you can get back in control. By knowing what the effects of screen time on the body are, you can start to change your habits.
That’s why we’ve put together this article. In it, you’ll learn about the different ways how screen time affects us.
Finally, you can start making smarter decisions about your screen time and be healthier than ever. Read on to learn more.
One of the biggest effects of screen time on your body is eye strain. When you look at a device constantly, you’re stressing your eyes, which might be why you find yourself having eye pain, not seeing clearly, or getting constant headaches.
Additionally, you could end up damaging your retina if you spend too much time staring at your phone or computer screen.
One of our tips for screen time so that you don’t experience eye strain is to take breaks from your screen.
Do this every ten to fifteen minutes so that your eyes get the rest they need. This is an exercise for your eyes that requires you to take several steps.
First, turn your gaze away from your device and look at a target in the distance. This could be an object across the room you’re in or a window.
Then, close your eyes. Do this for a couple of seconds, after which you can return to your screen. This is an especially useful exercise to use at work, where you can’t take long screen time breaks.
Melatonin Hormone Issues
Another issue that occurs when you have too much screen time is that your melatonin hormone is affected. In fact, there are studies that have shown that prolonged exposure to screens—including passive viewing—can cause sleep disorders.
This is because melatonin hormone levels shift when you spend too much time in front of a screen.
This hormone not only controls when you wake up and fall asleep and how restful your sleep is. Melatonin also is an important factor when it comes to the strength of your immune system.
Sleep deprivation will also negatively impact your immune system. So in addition to not sleeping well, you’ll also be more at risk for illnesses.
To avoid this from happening, monitoring screen time is key. Make sure you limit how much time you spend on your phone and remember to watch out for passive viewing.
If you often have your TV or laptop playing a film in the background, cut down the amount of time you do this, too.
In addition to melatonin hormone issues, spending too much time on your phone before you go to sleep can cause sleep problems. This is because the blue light coming into your eyes makes it difficult for you to fall asleep. Our advice on screen time in this case?
Don’t look at your phone, however tempting, before you go to bed at night. If this is difficult for you to do, stick your phone somewhere in your bedroom away from where you sleep.
You should also avoid watching Netflix on your computer before going to bed. Instead, read a book or try out meditation.
Having a bedtime ritual before you get into bed can help too. Make a relaxing chamomile tea, give yourself a time you stop looking at any of your devices, and snuggle up in bed a little while before planning to go to sleep.
When you’re spending a lot of time in front of a screen, you usually aren’t moving around much. There are exceptions, of course—some people will watch something on their phone while doing exercise on a stationary bike or treadmill.
But usually, when you’re scrolling through your phone or binge-watching your favorite show on Hulu, you’re sitting on a seat or lying back on a couch or bed.
This is a sedentary lifestyle. It can easily lead to obesity, which can lead to health issues such as high cholesterol, increased blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes.
Another problem with staying inside a lot looking at your screen is that it’s easy for you to spend hours grazing the food that’s at home. This, in addition to a lack of exercise, makes your chance of being obese even higher.
To avoid having this happen, it’s best to spend more time outdoors doing active exercise and activities.
If you’ve already found that you’ve put on more weight than you want to from staring at your screen too long indoors, it can also help to put together a healthier eating and exercise schedule.
Back and Neck Pain
If you’re always leaning to look at your device for hours at a time, this can result in back and neck pain. Especially if you’re at work spending a lot of time seated in a chair that isn’t ergonomic, you’ll definitely feel the after-effects later on.
This could even impact your sleep if you have too much pain to fall asleep restfully at the end of the day.
Here’s how it happens. When you look down at your screen, this puts more stress on your neck. Then, your spine ends up in a position that’s unnatural, which ends up straining ligaments, nerves, and muscles.
There’s an actual term for this, called “text neck.” Fortunately, you can avoid getting “text neck” by spending less time on your phone, regularly stretching, and using creative solutions such as a standing desk.
Getting a chair with back support or that’s ergonomically designed can help, too.
Restructuring of Your Brain
Something a bit scary is that, when adults spend too much time in front of a screen, this can actually restructure the matter in your brain. According to a study that was published in 2020 in Addictive Behaviors, people who had been diagnosed with having a smartphone addiction:
- Had less activity in their brains
- Had lower gray matter amounts in their brains
Generally speaking, when you spend too much time on your phone and are suffering from screen addiction, you experience poorer cognitive performance, more cravings, problems with your brain’s white matter when it comes to communication, and shrinkage of gray matter.
Even if you don’t have an addiction, you’re putting your brain at having some of this type of restructuring happen to it.
Smartphone addiction is a scary thing. If you think you’re experiencing it, then limiting how much time you spend in front of a screen might be challenging for you.
Speak with a professional, for example, a therapist, to find out how you can best help yourself.
Cortisol Hormone Issues
Another problem caused by screen time is that you end up with issues surrounding your brain’s natural production of cortisol. This is an important hormone because it’s responsible for helping your body function when it’s in a stressful situation.
It does this by reducing your immune system response and increasing your blood sugar levels.
However, it has been shown that when children spent devices or computers three hours a day on average, their cortisol levels were lower.
Children who spent an hour or less in front of a screen, on the other hand, had higher cortisol levels.
This can be a big problem if you suddenly find yourself in a stressful situation. The last thing you want to do is make a bad decision under stress or blow up in front of a loved one or colleague.
If you already have stress issues, then we recommend limiting how much time you spend in front of screens, as well as practicing stress-lowering methods like mediation or therapy.
Another problem that happens if you spend a lot of time on your screen scrolling through social media is that you can mess up the regulation of dopamine in your brain. Whenever you get a “like” or a “share,” you’re getting a release of dopamine.
While dopamine is usually a good thing, this can end up turning into an addiction to your tablet or smartphone because you’re constantly spending time checking for social media updates.
This addiction means that you’ll spend more time in front of the screen, which can cause many of the health issues we’ve already covered in this article. Additionally, you could end up with mental health issues because of the addiction.
Issues With Your Forearms, Fingers, and Wrists
Another effect of spending too much time in front of your screen is issues with your forearms, fingers, and wrists. Especially if you’re often hunched over typing while staring at a screen, you could end up with soreness or cramping in these areas.
This can happen whether you’re constantly looking up things online, typing, or texting.
To avoid this issue, limit how much time you spend texting on your phone. If you need to use your devices at work, then try out some of these hand and wrist stretches.
Another issue to watch out for if you type often is carpal tunnel. If you think you’re experiencing it, speak with your doctor, since you might have to end up getting surgery.
It’s scary, but it’s true. If you spend a lot of time sitting still in front of a screen, which can include a tablet, computer, or TV, this makes you more likely of having bad cardiovascular issues and increased mortality risk.
You can try to make up for the mortality risk by getting some exercise in, but this only makes a small difference.
If you really want your health to be the best it can be, you have to limit how much time you spend in front of your screen. Start writing down how much time you spend in front of your phone or tablet (or use software) so you can control it.
Many phones now make it possible to track how much time you spend with an app. Here’s a list of apps you can try out.
Now You Know the Effects of Screen Time—Now What?
Now that you know the effects of screen time on the body, you might need additional information. Maybe you want to learn about the best software or apps you can install to keep your kids from spending too much time staring at their screens.
Or maybe you need some advice on the best exercises to do to keep yourself healthy throughout the workday.
Whatever information you need, we can help. At Pricepro Pharmacy, we’re experts when it comes to health. We also sell many medications. To find out more about how we can help, contact us now.
How Much Time Does the Average American Spend on Their Phone in 2021?, Deyan G., Tech Jury
Structural and functional correlates of smartphone addiction, Julian Horvath et al, Addictive Behaviors
Stretches for Wrists and Hands, Healthline
Best Screen Time Apps to Monitor and Limit Screen Time on your iPhone and Android, Educational App Store