There’s no escaping screens in our society. From television to cell phones, tablets to e-readers and a thousand options in between, screens have become an integral part of our lives. Where once screens were used mainly for entertainment purposes, they are now crucial to communication, business operations, shopping, and socializing.
Many arguments have been made that too much screen time impacts your social life and dulls the way you experience the world. However, research also shows that spending too much time on your phone may even cause health problems. While it would be unrealistic to give up screen time entirely, here are some reasons to spend less time on your phone.
Phones Can Be As Addictive As Drugs
Some studies suggest that checking your phone can be as addictive as crack cocaine. In fact, the center of the brain that lights up when a drug addict takes their drug of choice is the same center that lights up when a person checks their phone. Of course, you don’t have to quit your phone cold turkey. However, it’s important to manage the amount of time you spend on your cell to ensure it doesn’t interfere with your life. Technology is beneficial and necessary, but can become detrimental if overused.
Here are some ways to fight your phone addiction:
- Check your phone at designated times throughout the day. Instead of responding to every message you get the second you get it, choose a few times per day to check your messages.
- Create screen-free time periods throughout the day. Even if it’s just a half hour in the morning and a half hour at night, having screen-free times, particularly right before bed, can help your eyesight, mood and even your sleep
Screens Are Bad For Your Eyes
Nearsightedness, otherwise known as myopia, is far more common now than ever before. In fact, studies have shown that since the rise of screen technology, the rate of nearsightedness in developed countries has skyrocketed. It has risen from 25% to 41.6% in America alone in just the last 30 years.
Additionally, screen technologies have become the catalyst for an entirely new eye condition called computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain. Symptoms of digital eye strain may include:
- blurred vision
- difficulty focusing
- light sensitivity
- sore back and neck
- migraines or headaches
- dry eyes
Finally, staring at a screen for too long can lead to a host of ocular problems including chronic dry eye, glaucoma and macular degeneration. It could even lead to vision loss in some cases. One great way you can help to reduce the strain on your eyes is to look up from your screen every 20 minutes at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Following the rule of 20s can help you reduce eye strain and avoid many complications related to prolonged screen time.
Screen Time Can Increase Anxiety
When you’re trying to keep up with the speed of technology, it can become overwhelming. Your phone works a lot faster than you do, so if you’re trying to answer every message as it comes in, catch every notification, and manage all of your tasks at once, you could easily fall victim to anxiety. For those who already experience anxiety, symptoms can increase the longer you use and try to keep up with technology.
Take breaks, and only respond to messages that need to be dealt with urgently. The rest can wait for a later time. Make sure to keep your phone away from your bed to resist the urge to check in during the night. Keep it on the ‘alarm only’ setting, and plug it in across the room so you keep your sleeping area screen free.
We’re Losing Relationships
While it might seem like we’re more connected than ever as a species, the opposite is actually true. In fact, studies have shown that people spend more time on their phones than they do with their spouses. That’s an alarming statistic given that we’re a social species that largely needs each other in order to keep thriving.
It’s true that technology is able to connect us in some ways, such as giving us the ability to talk when we’re on opposite sides of the world, but it’s important to manage consumption of electronic media so that social relationships aren’t ruined or damaged on a daily basis.
Give Your Eyes a Break
As alarming as some of these facts are, this isn’t even a complete list of all the ways too much phone time can harm you. From losing sleep to the health concerns already mentioned there are more than enough reasons to loosen your ties to technology.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to avoid problems that arise from prolonged screen time. Try putting your technology away at least an hour before bed.