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In a recent survey, it was found that most people spend nearly half of their waking hours staring at a screen. It also won’t come as much of a shock that 79 percent of the respondents also stated that their screen time had increased in the last 5 years.

The world we live in has evolved at a rapid pace during the last 24 months. Digital has become the ‘new normal’ meaning we rely heavily on digital devices for so many aspects of our daily lives. Have a think about your shopping, communication, work and downtime – we would bet that atleast 80% of those activities are done online.

At Smart Physiotherapy, we are always looking for ways to help our patients improve their health, embracing a whole-body approach to healthcare and wellbeing. With screen time becoming more prevalent, how does this usage affect our health?

6 Ways Too Much Screen Time Can Impact Your Physical and Mental Health

Sleep

There have been several studies that have revealed that those who have increased phone and computer usage often have more sleep disturbances. Research has shown that the light emitted from your device can affect melatonin production and trick your brain into thinking it is not time for sleep.

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you’ll know that there is a direct link between sleep quality and back pain.

Vision

Staring at the computer for prolonged periods of time has been known to cause strained and dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches. It was found that near-sightedness has increased from 25% to 41.6% in the last 30 years, which may be an effect of too much screen time and not enough sunlight – although that old sunlight thing can be hard to come by in Northern Ireland at the best of times.

Weight Gain

It was found that those who spend more time watching TV have a higher chance of being overweight and less active.

Overall Health

Typically, when watching TV, using a computer, or using our phones, we are sitting. Prolonged sitting has been known to lead to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. It should also be noted that we will typically find ourselves in a hunched-over posture when using devices for extended periods of time, which can lead to neck or back pain.

With the acceleration of home-working, evidence shows that a huge percentage of the population do not have adequate workstations at home. Resulting in neck and back strains.

Learning

It was found that kids and young adults who spend large amounts of time in front of the screens are more likely to develop attention disorders.

Social Skills

With screen time becoming more prevalent in children, it has been found that children are spending more time watching videos or exploring the web rather than creating experiences for themselves, which causes them to be less confident. Technology also seems to be affecting social skills in some children because of the lack of face-to-face communication.

So how can we have healthy habits when we are constantly surrounded by screens?

Phone-Free Zones

Set time aside each day without your phone. Make a rule that phones are not allowed at the dinner table or in the bedroom in order to increase family time at meals and improve sleep quality.

20-20-20 Rule

For every 20 minutes of looking at a screen, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. This rule can help to decrease the effects of prolonged screen time on your eyes.

Fun Away From the Screen

Play a board game, put together a puzzle, read a book, or go outside! There is so much that can be done that does not involve sitting behind your computer or phone. Not only can this improve your physical health, but it can also improve your mental health as well!

Monitor Your Posture

If you need to look at your phone or computer, make sure you are monitoring your posture. The optimal viewing angle is around 15 degrees. This will help to decrease potential neck and back pain. A physiotherapist can help you to correct your posture.

With technology and screens becoming more prevalent, it is important that we acknowledge how they may be affecting our daily life and take the necessary steps to improve our health habits. If pain is keeping you indoors and stuck on your phone or television; we can help. Our highly trained staff has expertise in a vast number of areas, and they can help you with any pain or injury you might be suffering from.

If you’re in pain, schedule an assessment with our expert team below.

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