Electronic devices and screens are an unavoidable part of our life, be it our daily work in office, school, home and even casual entertainment. We tend to get glued to these flat screens for hours. But do we realise how it affects our health? In some cases, in spite of knowing the consequences we tend to turn a blind eye.
• Disturbed sleep problem
One of the common effects of excessive screen use is irregular sleep, leading to further health complications. The blue light emitting from our laptops, mobiles and tablet screens not only damages our eyes, but also hampers our sleep. These lights trick our brain and stop the production of hormones like melatonin, which does not let the body naturally relax and fall asleep. This further leads to more complex health related issues.
• Weight gain and obesity
Overuse of laptops and mobiles require us to sit in one place for a long time. Prolonged sedentary activity causes weight gain and obesity.
• Neck and back related issues - Extensive use of electronic devices can also cause chronic back, shoulder and neck issues like spondylitis. These are mainly due to bad posture and long hours of sitting. One needs to ensure we take regular breaks while sitting and do stretching exercises to avoid chronic disorders.
• Anxiety and depression issues - Apart from physical health issues, long use of screens can also cause mental health issues like depression and anxiety, as it affects your ability to read emotions. According to some experts, it may also lead to suicidal behaviour in some people.
According to a study done by the National Institute of Health, children who are exposed to more than two hours of screen time score lower in language and thinking tests. Children exposed to more than seven hours of screen time also showed alarming results like thinning of the brain's cortex, which is related to critical thinking and reasoning power.
Break the vicious circle - Now that we have established the ill effects of using screens excessively, let’s understand how we can reduce its use and develop healthy habits.
Practise what you preach - Most parents advise their children to not use their mobile phone or other devices. However, they forget the simple fact that parents are the first role models for children. So, the next time you are binge-watching your favourite series, keep in mind the example you are setting for your children as children learn more from observing our behaviour.
Set a time to unplug - This is easier said than done. However, if you are successful in setting a time where everyone unplugs from their respective devices and sits together as a family, you have won the battle. This time can be a short one like dinner time or post dinner time, where the entire family sits together and spends quality time with each other.
Use parental control on devices - Another effective way to protect your children is installing parental control on devices used by children. Children get exposed to various social elements while using their devices, and apps like parental control help you control what kind of content they are exposed to.
Keep bedrooms free from electronic devices - Bedrooms should be used only for sleeping. Keeping electronic devices like TVs and laptops, and handheld devices like tablets and mobile phones out of the bedroom helps your sleep better as they may interfere with your sleep pattern and disturb you.