7 reasons why staring at a screen is damaging your health

Time to switch off now

(Image credit: Rex Features (Shutterstock))

Time to switch off now

So you have a desk job, you watch all the latest series, you read your news online and keep up with friend via social media. Together, that adds up to a serious amount of screen time.

In fact, it’s estimated that the average Brit spends more time using technology devices than they do sleeping, racking up an incredible eight hours 41 minutes of on-screen time each day.

But it’s time to start reassessing this figure. We all know that sitting around staring at a device isn’t exactly good for us, but do we really know just how bad it really is?

Here are seven reasons why staring at a screen all day is ruining your health:

1. It affects your sight

Remember when you were younger and your mum told you that if you watch too much TV that you’ll end up with ‘square eyes’? Well, turns out she was right…kinda.

Excessive screen use has been proven to lead ‘Computer Vision Syndrome’ – a mixture of dry eyes, headaches and blurred vision. Bet your eyes are going fuzzy just thinking about it.

2. It ruins your posture

Feeling a bit ache-y after spending a long shift at the desk or huddled over the laptop? Slouching can cause serious musculoskeletal pain – in fact spending more than two hors a day at a screen increases the risk of neck, shoulder and back pain. So if your work does involve eight hours a day in front of a computer, make sure you’ve got the perfect ergonometric set-up.

3. It deters us from doing exercise

Why go for a run when you could sit and watch another episode of Stranger Things instead? To stay alive, is why.

A sedentary lifestyle has been linked with diabetes, heart disease and even early death. In fact, sitting for over 8 hours a day increases risk of early death by 15%. This jumps to a whopping 40% if you’re sat down for over 11 hours. Time to get moving…

4. It can cause sleep and weight problems

Artificial light, particularly the blue wavelength transmitted from screens, can mess up our circadian rhythms – the biological patterns which help regulate sleep and wakefulness.

This not only causes a bad night sleep but can also have other nasty consequences such as increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and even some forms of cancer.

And the next day, being tired makes you more likely to reach for the unhealthy sugary snacks that you’re craving, so you end up putting on weight too.

5. It makes it hard to concentrate

You probably realise that staring at a screen can give you a headache, but did you know if might actually make you brain actually shrink?

Studies of computer gaming-addicted teenagers have even shown shrinkage of parts of the brain – the gray matter important for higher functions such as processing, prioritising and planning as well as showing compassion and developing relationships. No wonder you can’t concentrate then.

6. It makes it really hard to ‘switch off’

Ever feel like your partner checks their emails about a million times a day? You’re not alone. More and more of us are struggling to regulate how much time we spend on our devices, to the point that many of us can’t cope without regular digital exposure.

Bt this kind of addiction is damaging. Spending too much time online has been linked with both depression and relationship issues, so it’s worth taking setting your own rules about when to ‘switch off’.

7. It can affect your mental wellbeing

Yes, there is the argument that our friendship benefit from social media by helping us stay in touch, but there is a downside too. As we increasingly rely on devices to connect us, face-to-face contact is becoming less and less frequent.

The result? Feelings of loneliness, depression and isolation. Making the effort to meet up and maintain friendships in person is important for our mental wellbeing, so put down that phone and pick up that diary instead.

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