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The Effects of Screen Time

June 17th, 2020


“We limit how much technology our kids use at home.” - Steve Jobs

Young woman in a dark room staring at computer screen reflecting in her glasses

The Screen Effect

In today’s society, humans are constantly being bombarded with media via a screen. For example, humans are viewing different things on cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions, just to name a few. These screens can contain different things, like movies, shows, schoolwork, or other messages that we either need or want to view.

Things we may need to view include things like homework for kids, as many schools and teachers are giving assignments that depart from the pencil and paper like in the days of old, but now are on tablets, requiring children to use screens to complete their work. Adults, too, have work that often needs completed on screens, such as work that requires a computer.

It is our reality that there are indeed stressors that come with viewing screens over time. The effects that come from repeatedly looking at screens may vary and can impact different people in different ways. Due to our daily exposure to screens, it is important to know how to combat it’s negative effects by limiting one’s screen time.

The Screen Craze

As previously mentioned, there are so many different screens in our society that often demand our eyes to view them. Whether it be for work or leisure, humans spend many hours of their day looking at screens. It can seem like everything is on a screen this day in age.

Even just driving down the street one may find themselves gazing at screens alongside the road – as even billboards are digital screens these days! Yes, screens are virtually everywhere we look, which adds to the stressors that they can add to our lives both physically and mentally.

The Physical Stress of Staring at Screens

Looking at screens all day long can cause stress on different parts of our bodies and impact us physically. The most glaringly obvious body part impacted by screen time is our eyes. As humans we have not evolved eyes that are made for looking at artificial light and screens throughout the day, day after day. Looking at screens for too long can cause our eyes to strain and may lead to headaches.

Young boy and girl under the covers looking at an ipad screen

In addition to fatiguing our eyes and causing headaches, looking at the blue lights of our cell phones can cause trouble sleeping. If we look at our cell phones just before bed, we may have difficulty falling asleep, or once we fall asleep, we may have difficulty staying asleep. TV before bed can also cause difficulty with sleeping, though not necessarily to the same extent as staring at one’s cell phone.

The Emotional Stress of Staring at Screens

On top of the physical stressors that one may experience from staring at screens, there may be emotional stressors that are accompanied by increased screen time as well. It is possible in today’s society to get wrapped up in viewing screens and not connecting with people in real life. We may spend our time texting, messaging, or on social media instead of connecting with friends in the physical realm.

Often times people spend their free time watching tv, whether it be movies, television shows, or binging on Netflix. Some people can spend hours a day playing video or computer games instead of being out and enjoying the outdoors. Spending time alone or inside for long periods of time can impact one’s mood in a negative manner. Increasing how much one uses a screen and how much time they spend viewing various screens can influence one’s attitude and emotional well-being.

How to Use Screens in Moderation

The key to screen use is to use them in moderation. This is easier said than done, as has been previously mentioned, we are bombarded with screens everywhere we turn. It is important to try to keep this in mind as we attempt to limit our screen use. Obviously, there will be times where we must look at screens; but, in the times where we can avoid using screens it is a good idea to take advantage of the opportunity to take a break from screen use.

There are sometimes where screen use is worse than others. For example, trying to limit screen use first thing in the morning and right before bed can be beneficial. Another strategy that may be helpful for using screens in moderation is to try to schedule time outside. While there could be some screens outside, they will be limited in number compared to the number of screens in one’s house. If you do go outside, it could be helpful to leave one’s phone inside to avoid the temptation of staring at one’s phone screen.

Create Limits for Yourself

It can be very nice to have technology and to view the various screens that are in our lives, whether it be phones, TVs, or computers. However, too much screen use can be a stressor on our physical and mental well-being. Trying to use screens in moderation is a good strategy to help find balance with how much we are viewing screens.

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