From young children to working adults to older people, most of us enjoy adequate screen time every day thanks to the myriad of digital devices we own. We consume so much content on our digital screens that it is easy to overlook the adverse side effects of spending too much time in front of the screen. However, with research showing that excessive screen time can disrupt brain development or even lead to long-term medical problems like diabetes, it is time to stop ignoring overdose risks in our patients.
Screens are part of everyday life. While there is growing evidence of the harmful effects of screen time on adults and children, reducing screen time can help your family improve their health. Learn more about the harmful effects of a long-lasting screen and tips on limiting the use of electronic devices.
The Harmful effects of screen time on your health
Whether the whole family is sitting in front of your smartphone or the TV is running in the other room, too much screen time can be detrimental. These are some of the reasons why spending too much time in front of a screen can affect your health.
Spending too much time in a sedentary job, such as playing video games or watching television, can be a bigger risk factor for obesity. Heart health is also affected and can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, or cholesterol.
The light emitted by electronic devices interrupts the brain’s sleep cycle and can prevent restful sleep. Please keep all of your screens out of your bedroom and avoid them at least an hour before sleeping to sleep more soundly.
Never-ending neck and back pain
Too much screen time can lead to poor posture and chronic neck, shoulder, and back pain. Instead, take breaks to walk, stand, or stretch. Make sure your chair has a good backrest, and try to keep the device at eye level.
Depression and anxiety
All the time you spend in front of screens can negatively affect your mental and emotional well-being. Experts suggest that longer screen times and depression could be related to increased suicidal behavior and a lower ability to read emotions in general.
Additionally, a study from the Institutes of Health found that children who spent more than two hours a day using electronic devices performed worse on thinking and language tests. Those who spent more than seven hours in front of a screen experienced a thinning of the cerebral cortex associated with critical thinking and reasoning.
Tips to reduce screen time
Model healthy use of electronics
Parents are role models for their children. The next time you watch your favorite Netflix series, remember an example for your children. Leaving the television on in the background or moving the phone when you have a spare minute may not reproduce the behavior you expect your children to do.
Take your time unplugging it
Pick a time for your whole family to turn off the phone, television, and computer. When everyone agrees to put down their devices, it gives your family a chance to have a great time all together.
Use of parental controls
You can use some tools to filter or block the content you do not want your kids to watch. You can also set daily screen time limits to prevent your kids from accessing apps once they reach a specific time.
Encourage other activities
Today, it is easy for children to connect electronic devices to entertain themselves. Instead, please encourage them to participate in activities that do not require a screen, such as playing outside, reading your favorite book, or playing a board game.
Keep rooms screen-free
You may want to consider not allowing electronic devices in the bedroom. This includes tablets and other portable devices that your children might use at night that could disrupt their sleep.
So what is the ideal screen time?
Limiting screen time to a few hours a day may not be realistic, but these tips can help you and your family reduce screen time. While this seems like a simple question, the “correct” amount often depends on the type of screen a person is viewing and what is the reason behind their screen time. Many institutes recommend avoiding screening in children younger than 18 to 24 months. Children over the age of 2 should be limited to 1 to 2 hours of screen time per day. Adults should also attempt to limit screen time outside of work hours.