Screens are bad for your health
The internet is a wonderful thing, and we can all enjoy some time on it with moderation. But let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment. We’re not using technology in moderation, not even close. We have come to rely on social media, Google, our smart phones and iPads- but the truth is screens are bad for your health, and they’re even worse for your children.
Any kind of dependence is generally discouraged, whether it be drugs, coffee or exercise, it doesn’t matter. Too much of one thing is never good, it is all about healthy balance. Many people will justify or mask addiction with convenience when it comes to technology rather than address the dependence. An addiction to the internet has the power to change the way you are wired, literally and should be taken seriously.
“Taken together, [studies show] internet addiction is associated with structural and functional changes in brain regions involving emotional processing, executive attention, decision making, and cognitivecontrol.” –research authors summarizing neuro-imaging findings in internet and gaming addiction (Lin & Zhou et al, 2012)
In other words, you are compromising the quality of your brain function by too much time on your computer. Too much screen time will restructure your brain in ways that will not do you any favors. Studies have shown that regular exposure to screens literally shrinks the “processing” area of your brain, or gray matter- particularly in the frontal lobe. This is only the beginning and it is scary stuff.
Unless you’re one of those cool people with the stand-up desk featuring a treadmill beneath your feet, you’re probably sitting down right now. That’s exactly the problem. Not to say lounging here and there isn’t okay or even healthy- but if you’re spending hours a day with your computer sitting or laying down, perhaps you need to re-evaluate your habits.
If your lifestyle is generally sedentary your body will suffer. It is not designed to sit still for long periods of time. Those who eat a less balanced diet on top of that are more likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes and/or various heart diseases. You’re already rewiring your brain with too much screen time, and your body will be more vulnerable as a result.
Weight gain isn’t the only toll on your body to worry about, your eyes are at risk too. Consistent screen time puts undue stress on your eyes. Blue light has the potential to damage your retinas, keep you up at night, and cause headaches. Over long periods of time, the affects will only get worse.
What you can do
It’s one thing to say, “this is bad for you!” and another to do something about it. If you’re like me, your income relies on you being in front of a screen for one reason or another. Everyone is online, everything is digital- it’s literally beyond your control.
Don’t go out and quit your job- but consider ways you can improve your daily work habits. If permitted, take 5 minute breaks every hour. Or break up your work responsibilities in such a way that allow you to stop looking at the screen every 20 minutes, for 20 minutes.
If you are able to purchase a standing desk, even better. I recently saw a new clever invention that you can stick to the bottom of your desk, and allow your feet to swing beneath you. Little tweaks to your lifestyle and sedentary habits will make a difference in the long run if you commit to it. We’ll discuss ways to keep active in the work place in a coming piece.
We hope this information didn’t stress you out. If so, relax- grab some tea– head outside and shut off your computer and brain for a while! Enjoy life, it’s too short!