Embracing virtual mediums has become the ‘thing’ these days. People are increasingly spending time glued to their laptops, mobile phones, and television. This exposure to screens for long and continuous hours is not healthy for our bodies. The impact of this prolonged use is not limited to age, gender, or profession. Ongoing studies have revealed that the negative effects of screen time are visible in cognitive, social, emotional, and physiological realms. Listed below are some of the most obvious and most harmful effects of virtual mediums vis-à-vis screen time.
Why is screen time such a big issue?
The negative connotations associated with screen time are the reason for increased discussion around the impact of screens on our routine life. Many studies are being conducted around this debate. Some of the common results drawn from these studies are:
Straining of body muscles and eyes
After a long day of working on a laptop, phone, or watching television our eyes get tired. The strain on the eyes due to prolonged screen exposure can be serious and problematic. It can cause watery eyes or dry eyes. It can compromise the vision and make it blurry. Eye disorders can also set in like myopia or retina damage. Also, the posture that we sit in while working on these devices is mostly inappropriate. Our back is slouched and legs are stiff. This causes trouble for the body muscles and can prove to be painful.
Inconsistent sleep cycle
Melatonin is produced when the body is tired and requires sleep. Due to the blue light emitted from these screens, the production of melatonin is reduced as this light gives us the perception of the daytime. This can affect the sleep cycle and might lead to short term insomnia. The disruption in sleeping pattern reduces efficiency and productivity.
Unhealthy eating habits
The virtual lifestyle is sedentary. You can do almost all activities from your room and there is no need to step out. This promotes binging on snacks and increases reliance on junk food. Unhealthy eating habits can lead to obesity and thus the body becomes home to chronic disorders like heart diseases, hypertension, digestive problems, etc.
Increased risk of obesity
The unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyle are the two main causes of obesity. When too much time is spending on gadgets we avoid moving or getting up from our beds. This leads to a complete lack of movement. Thus, we end up gaining extra pounds that can prove to be harmful to our overall health. Gaining weight is now quite common in youngsters and children because of their screen addiction.
Prolonged screen time leads to alteration in the grey matter and white matter of the brain. This affects the production and functioning of nerve cells. Because of which the problem solving, situation assessment, concentration and memory retention, and other functions of the brain are impaired.
Poor socializing skills
Being glued to the screen minimizes our social interaction. This can promote solitude and withdrawal. Human beings are social animals and the lack of social life is not good for emotional and mental health. This in turn leads to depreciation in emotional judgment as the person becomes less empathetic.
Self- esteem issues
As our interaction with people reduces and we probably start gaining weight, there are chances of developing self- esteem issues. Underestimating our worth and capabilities can force us to spend more time glued to the screens because we start feeling that we are good at nothing. This can lead to more complex mental problems of overthinking about our negative traits and presuming that we can’t achieve anything in life.
Improper child development
The first ten years of our life are very crucial. We imbibe our values, ethics, and gain knowledge during these years. The mind of a child at this time is an empty box that can be filled by either good or bad thoughts by the surroundings. Thus, too much screen time can affect this developmental stage in children. Their cognitive development might suffer affecting their learning skills. Allowing them to watch too much of educational programs can also prove to be ineffective as they spend their time in a passive activity. Children are brimming with energy and they need to be involved in active exercises to channel their energy. When they don’t get an outlet for their energy, they might become restless and aggressive. These issues are temporary in the beginning; their intensity can increase with time. The only way to get rid of these problems is to avoid too much screen time. The time spends on gadgets can be fixed as per requirement. Adapting certain small changes like meditation, walks, yoga, joining an interest group, etc. can help decrease the dependency on these gadgets and give us a sense of the real world instead of being caged in the virtual one.