Do you monitor your family’s overall screen time?

By Elizabeth Summers / April 15, 2019 / No comments
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In our current digital age, most of us are addicted to some form of screen, as much as we’d hate to admit it. We wake up and look at a before we do anything else, then as we go to bed, most of us find ourselves staring at a screen. As much as we may not like to admit it, for the vast majority of us, our ‘screen’ is the only constant in our lives.

Findings propose that UK office workers spend almost 1,700 hours a year staring at a computer screen – and that’s before adding in all the time at home. By evening within a family home, parents can often be found flicking through social media on their phones whilst their children entertain themselves with games on their iPad, or the family is all gathered round watching the latest series on Netflix.

Let’s take a look at the health impacts involved in spending too much time in front of the screen. Is it time to bring more awareness to the amount of time your family spends using screens and look at ways of reducing it?

Health problems such as digital eye strain

Everyone is aware that spending long hours in front of the screen is unhealthy, but not all will know that it can actually lead to illness. Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is also known as digital eye strain and caused by prolonged periods of looking at electronic devices such as computers, tablets and phones. The syndrome can result in several symptoms including:

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain

But why does this occur?

When the eyes spend extended periods of time looking at a screen, they are forced to work harder. Unlike reading from a book or a newspaper, in which the words are more distinguished and sharply defined, the contrast on a screen is significantly reduced and the likes of glare bouncing back from the screen poses more of a threat to an uninterrupted view.

Those who already suffer from poor vision and use eye-sight correction such as glasses or contact lenses are the most likely to be affected by CVS. In fact, most will find that their eyesight will worsen and have them searching the SharpeVision website for answers to questions such as, “how long does LASIK eye surgery last?” What’s also interesting, is several studies have found that even those who don’t usually require a general eye prescription may benefit from glasses specifically designed for use in front of the screen to prevent damage.

CVS can be treated through the administration of solution although often simply adjusting the way you view your screen can owe to a reduction in damage to the eye. Simple changes, such as altering your display settings, regularly exercising your eyes and taking frequent breaks from staring at the screen can all prevent the strain caused. Most employers should also have guidelines instructing you on how to set up your workstation appropriately.

As for children, parents can limit their screen exposure to a minimum and instead encourage them to play outdoor games, read books, and get involved in other recreational activities. They can also explore glasses for the kids that can block the blue light radiation while using mobiles and computers. You can visit the website of a few companies specialised in such products.

Ways to make realistic changes

With all the technological advancements, it almost seems like back-tracking to suggest that you should put aside the phones and tablets in exchange for a book, but it’s not. Scientific research has shown that by reading from a physical book or newspaper as opposed to an e-book or your digital copy, you absorb more information. This owes to two main reasons. Firstly, you get less distracted, mostly due to the fact the internet isn’t right at your fingers and secondly, having the material in your hands help you visualise just how much you’ve read.

Similarly, if you’ve been working in a job all day that involves focusing on a computer screen and your equating to that aforementioned 1,700 hours, then use the evenings to give your eyes a rest. Findings suggest that using a blue light before sleep can disrupt with your melatonin and circadian cycles, making the process of getting to sleep a whole lot harder. This is why many people will wear blue light glasses whilst looking at a screen, as these have been shown to block the harmful light and help prevent the disruption of sleep cycles. On the other hand, reading some print is deemed an age-old remedy for those struggling with getting some shut-eye.

No one is proposing that we scrap all the digital technologies that make our day-to-day life so much better, however it is worth reassessing the time spent looking at a screen and whether it essential – looking at the same posts repeatedly isn’t.

Turn your phone onto airplane mode at 9pm, keep track of your time spent on social media, and take in the view straight ahead as opposed to looking down.

Article provided by postcard printing company, Where the Trade Buys.