In a world where just about everything is digital, being glued to a screen has become the norm. From smartphones to televisions the average person spends more than ten hours tapped into modern technology. Though technology is convenient for everything from daily tasks to entertainment, too much screen time can have a negative impact on you and your family.
While some issues are specific to children and/or adults, below is a look at the most general consequences of too much screen time.
Vision Problems – spending prolonged periods of time in front of a screen can lead to problems with your vision. This can include blurriness, eye strain, or dry eyes.
Difficulty Sleeping – The blue light from computer screens, tablets, and smartphones is believed to suppress the body from producing melatonin which is a hormone that helps to promote sleep.
Addiction – It’s okay to use the internet or play video games as a means of entertainment, but doing it too often can lead to behavioral addictions like gambling or internet addiction. When you participate in activities whether it’s scrolling through social media or beating an online competitor in a game it causes the brain to produce dopamine which is a hormone that signals pleasure to the brain. Much like a high from abusing substances, you want to chase that “high” again.
Weight Gain – When you’re glued to a screen, chances are you’re not doing much else. Inactivity for long periods of time can lead to weight gain. As you may or may not know, increased weight also increases your risk of developing diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure.
Teenagers and Young Children
Here’s a look at what happens when your children spend too much time with screens:
Exposure to Violence, Sex, and Drugs – While there are steps and applications that parents can use to try and keep the internet safe for children, nothing is a guarantee. The more time children spend on the screen the more likely they are to be exposed to things like violence, sex, and drugs. Too much exposure to these things can desensitize them and even result in them engaging in reckless behaviors themselves.
Limited Social Skills – Socialization becomes a huge problem for children who spend most of their time watching television, surfing the web, or playing video games. They spend less time having real interactions with their peers and essentially miss out on learning key communication skills which are vital throughout life. Some children become so engulfed with screen time that they isolate themselves from others which lessens their real-life experiences and quality of life.
Depression and Anxiety – Studies have proven that teenagers who spend more than an hour on the internet (social media in particular) are more likely to develop anxiety or depression than children who’s screen time is limited. At a time when children are trying to fit in with their peers, social media can be a risky platform. Not only do teenagers try to do or say whatever they can online to appear cool, but social media is also a common platform for bullying.
What to Do About It?
Now that you’re aware of how too much screen time can impact you and your children you’re probably wondering what can be done about it. Here are a few suggestions
Set limits – Determine how much screen time you’re going to allow your children to have each day and then make this clear to them.
Have fun alternatives – Your children aren’t going to like the idea of having to turn off their screens, so be sure to have some engaging activities for them to do instead. Make this your family time where you cook meals together, play board games, go outside, or do something else you all enjoy.
Remove Screens from Bedrooms – Remove the temptation of watching television before bed or having a teenager sneak to post on social media by getting rid of screens in personal spaces. Keep televisions and computers in common areas and even designate a place to store smartphones just before bedtime.
It’s true that just about everything we do these days requires some sort of screen. From completing projects at work and school to shopping and more, most families rely heavily on the internet and digital devices. That being said, there are grave consequences to staying plugged in all the time. Do yourself and your family a favor and begin taking steps to reduce your screen time and improve your health.