– New York, NY
Digital devices can provide users with a vast amount of information and an easy means of communication with others, so the presence of these devices in the daily lives of many is almost constant. Despite this, prolonged screen time can be harmful. It is important to recognize the drawbacks of screen time and implement ways to ensure devices are being used effectively.
Firstly, the act of viewing the screen itself can cause strain on the eyes. Staring at the screen for long hours can leave eyes feeling blurry and dry. It can also heighten pre-existing problems. A way to combat this is to separate screen time into chunks. A prominent method is the 20-20-20 method, which is spending 20 seconds staring at something 20 feet away after 20 minutes of screen time. While it may not be an end-all, this method may lessen the effects of prolonged screen time.
Blue light emitted from screens can also have an impact on sleep schedules. Blue light disrupts the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Using devices right before going to bed can make it much harder to fall asleep. Lessening screen time in general can slightly regulate melatonin levels, but it is more important to stay away from the screen directly before sleeping. Not using a device for an hour before going to bed or keeping devices out of the bedroom late at night are two viable options for lessening the effects devices have on sleep.
Focusing on smaller, handheld devices in particular, even physical alignment can come into play. Being constantly hunched over on a device such as a phone can affect posture. This position can also cause stiffness and pain in users’ shoulders and neck. In this case, users should take breaks from sitting to stretch and walk around. Additionally, sitting in a chair with sufficient back support and viewing the screen at eye level are methods that can be very beneficial.
Considering how essential screens have become, it may be difficult to limit screen time. Despite this, even taking a few extra minutes away from screens can make a difference. It is important to set aside time to unplug and do something else during a time when users may have turned toward devices. Now that you have finished reading this, it may be the right time for a break from your screen!