The average American spends about 10 hours staring at their smartphone, laptop, or other digital device. This startling statistic was revealed by Nielsen Company and reported on by CNN. Ever wonder what kind of real-world consequences to your health are caused by the digital age? The effects of so much screen time on our health are wide-ranging. The good news is, there is a lot we can do to curb negative side effects.
The following are areas health experts recommend we pay attention to, to curb the downside of too much time spent in front of a screen.
- Care for your eyes.
It’s called digital eye strain, alternatively known as computer vision syndrome. And for those of us who work a desk job, escaping computer use is near-impossible. While the long-term ill effects of too much screen time are still being studied, your eyes sure can feel worn out after pulling a 15-hour workday. So how can a digital age worker handle all that screen time? You can protect against digital eye strain by wearing a pair of computer glasses, like those offered by Felix Gray, that filter blue light and eliminate glare from your screen. Another tip recommended by experts? Adjust your screen’s brightness to the lowest level you can tolerate. The less you strain your eyes, the less dry and irritated they–and you–will feel at the end of the day.
- Perfect your posture.
Sitting at a desk or in front of the screen can kill your posture fast. After slouching at your desk all day, don’t be surprised if you find it hard to stand with your shoulders back and your tummy tucked in. There are studies that show that poor posture can affect your moods, cause depression, and also put a crimp in career advancement. Correct posture decreases the stress placed on your joints and muscles and fatigues your body less than if you were to slouch.
So how do you get yourself to sit correctly? Try this checklist for better posture:
- Feet flat on the floor.
- Your knees and elbows should be at right angles.
- Your back should be straight while following the natural curvature of the spine.
- Your screen or reading material should be at eye level.
- Tackle causes of text neck.
Text neck, or muscle stiffness in the neck, occurs when you are not utilizing good posture. It happens when you are forcing your head to stare down at a smartphone or a screen. For every degree your head is tilted forward, this adds undue pressure to the spine, resulting in neck pain. The easiest way to prevent text neck is to simply put your smartphone, tablet, or eBook reader down. Take a hike, enjoy the outdoors, or have a face-to-face talk instead of texting.
- Shun the sitting disease.
There’s a new household danger in town, and it’s one that everybody engages in to varying degrees. Called the “sitting disease,” it’s a product of our sedentary lifestyle. And research has shown that this kind of inactive lifestyle is linked to many health risks. Here are the sicknesses and diseases that you are in danger of if you’re sitting too much:
- Type 2 diabetes
- metabolic syndrome
- cardiovascular diseases and cancers
- abnormal cholesterol levels
So what can you do to combat the negatives of too much sitting? Make being more active a priority. Consider purchasing a standing desk. Have select work meetings as you take walks. Take all phone calls standing up. Allow yourself a TV binge session so long as you do so on a treadmill, stationary bike, or stepper.
- Replace FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) with gratitude.
In 2013, the Oxford English dictionary added FOMO, or fear of missing out, into their lexicon. Psychiatrists and therapists consider FOMO a mental illness that is rampant in today’s social media driven society.
So how can you protect yourself from this common fear? Practice good thought hygiene. When you notice your thoughts turning negative, don’t shy away from it entirely. Instead, take a practical approach and figure out why you are feeling the way you do. Understand that a lot of what you see on social media is an illusion. And if needed, take a social media break to protect yourself from envious thoughts. Focus on all the things that are going right with your own life, as well as the goals that you are aiming for. By keeping your mind on everything that you are grateful for, you have less time and space for your mind to be wondering jealous of what others are up to.