The aftereffects on the body and brain from excessive ‘screen time’

Just like the rest of the global population, Americans are also guilty of staring at their respective screens all day. Unfortunately, the consequences of ‘too much’ screen time are not so viable and plenty of research has proved that it has a negative impact on both – our bodies and brain.

Imagine the everyday scenario of an average American adult:

He or she is up until late at night (around 12 am) watching a video on their phone. The next day, they wake up to go to work where they stare at a computer screen for around 8 hours. Upon going home, they watch a movie on TV, play a video game, and spend some time on the social network.

As a result, an American adult is spending more than 7 hours a day staring at digital screens.

We humans didn’t evolve to stare at bright screens all day. Especially when the screen time is significantly affecting our brain and body. In fact, a report from American Optometric Association shows that 59% of computer users experience a condition called Computer Vision Syndrome.

The symptoms for the syndrome include:

· Eyestrain

· Blurry vision

· Headaches

· Pain in neck and back

Some of the effects of screen time are long-term….even permanent.

Too Much Screen Time Damages the Brain
Infographic Courtesy of: Tech Insider.

Since 1971, cases of nearsightedness have doubled in the USA. Moreover, in Asia, nearly 90% of teens and adults are nearsighted.

Studies also reveal that apart from the bright screen, the colors of the same are also harmful. Screens emit a combination of red, green, and blue light that is similar to the sunlight.

However, it is the blue wavelengths present in the sunlight that keep our circadian rhythms in sync with the environment. And this can be problematic when we use screens at night.

In normal circumstances, our bodies produce the hormone melatonin when the sun sets. The hormone is responsible for regulating our circadian rhythms enabling us to feel tired and sleepy. Studies show that the same blue light emitted from screens disrupt the natural process, making it difficult for us to sleep.
Related: Dangers of Prolonged Sitting and how to Address it?
A study was conducted in this regard where one group of participants was given e-books to read while the other group was provided with printable reading material. The group who spent four hours reading e-books for five nights produced 55% less melatonin that the other group.

The e-book readers also reported that they:

· Were more alert before bedtime

· Had difficulty falling sleep

· Were more tired in the morning

But perhaps the biggest concern of screen time is the change we see in our children. An ongoing study sponsored by the NIH found that pre-teens who used the screen for over 7 hours a day had differences in the part of their brains called the cortex. The cortex is responsible for processing information from our five senses and starts shrinking, as we get older. Upon investigation, it was observed that the kids who spent more time on screen already had thinner cortices than the kids who had limited screen time.

The same study also revealed that the kids who spent more than 2 hours a day on screens ranked lower in thinking and language skills test.

Scientists are unsure of how these would affect the kids in their later life but with constant research on these kids over the next decade – they will have a better understanding of the consequences of excess screen time.

Undoubtedly, screens have vastly changed how we communicate but it has also greatly influenced our lifestyle. However, time will reveal what other changes it will bring!

Video Source: TechInsider / YouTube.
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