Spending hours scrolling through social media, binging the latest Netflix show, or getting lost in the virtual world of video games, has become the norm.
It’s easy to get sucked into the screens in front of us and lose track of time.
But let’s be real, how often do we stop and think about the fact that we’re spending so much of our precious time on screens instead of investing more in real life?
Don’t get me wrong, screens have their place and can be a great source of entertainment and connection too.
But when we’re constantly glued to them, it can take a toll on our relationships, mental well-being.
Maybe being more aware of the side effects can encourage us to take a moment everyday, to reflect on our screen time without sacrificing productivity or face-to-face interactions and experiences.
Here are 9 risks of being constantly hunched over your smartphones and TVs that can distort your overall health.
1. You Weren’t Just Made to Stay Put
Have you ever thought about how much time you spend sitting in front of screens?
It’s not just bad for your posture, it can also increase your risk of chronic health conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Studies shows how sitting for long periods of time while using digital devices can cause a spike in insulin and blood glucose levels, leading to an accumulation of fat in your bloodstream.
But don’t worry, there’s a simple solution: spend less time on screens and more time being active. It might seem daunting at first, but trust me, it’ll be worth it in the long run to avoid these health problems.
2. Screen Addictions
It turns out that screen addiction is similar to other forms of addiction in that it activates the reward center of our brain.
When we engage in pleasurable activities, our body releases dopamine, one of the “feel-good” hormones that give us a sense of euphoria.
However, over time, our body can become desensitized to this feeling and we seek out more intense experiences to get that same rush.
This is especially true with the rise of technology in our lives.
From basic necessities like food to luxuries like home movies, almost all consumer-level technology is designed to give us a rewarding experience.
And unfortunately, anyone at any age can fall victim to screen addiction, whether it’s intentional or not.
Frequent exposure can lead to a neurochemical cascade that can become more intense if left unchecked.
3. Social Isolation
It’s easy to get lost in the virtual world and forget about the real world when we’re spending too much time on screens.
When we’re constantly scrolling through social media, playing video games, or watching TV, we may start to feel like we’re missing out on something or that we’re not fully present in our own lives.
The overuse of screens can sometimes lead to feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out) as we scroll through social media and see other people’s highlight reels.
This can make us feel like we’re not doing enough or that we’re missing out on something, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection, even if we’re physically surrounded by people.
Additionally, screens can be a distraction from our real-life responsibilities and relationships.
If we’re constantly checking our phones or getting lost in a video game, we may be neglecting our responsibilities and neglecting our relationships with the people around us.
This can lead to a feeling of withdrawal or disconnection from the people and things that are most important to us.
Screens are a tool, not a replacement for real-life human interaction and connection. Make an effort to disconnect from screens and engage with the people and activities around you. You’ll be surprised at how much more connected and fulfilled you’ll feel.
4. Impaired Mental Health
Do you ever stop to think about the impact screen time has on your brain?
Not to mention experts reports of how it’s one of the leading causes of depression in teens and young adults.
It’s kind of scary when you think about it.
Too much screen time can actually alter the structure of your brain, causing the grey matter responsible for cognitive processes to shrink and the white matter that serves as the communication network to become deformed.
This leads to poorer concentration, weaker memory, slower information processing, and weaker impulse control.
It’s especially worrying for kids, whose brains are still developing.
Let’s be mindful of our screen habits and take breaks to give our brains a chance to rest and function at their best.
5. Impaired Emotional Judgement
One potential consequence of reduced emotional judgment is desensitization to violent content. Studies have shown that exposing oneself to violent media can increase aggression, particularly in young children and adolescents. This is a cause for concern as it can lead to a lack of empathy and understanding of the harm caused by violent actions. It is important to be mindful of the media we consume and the impact it may have on our emotional well-being.
If spending too much screen time can be harmful to our well-being, another way it can impact us is by clouding and weakening our emotional judgment.
When we’re constantly bombarded with screens and digital stimuli, it can be hard to take a step back and healthily process our emotions.
We may find ourselves reacting more impulsively or making decisions based on what we see online instead of using our critical thinking and emotional intelligence.
Take breaks from screens, practice mindfulness and self-regulation.
This helps you make better choices, and maintain a healthy emotional balance.
6. False Gratification
Still find it hard to put your phone down or turn off the TV? It’s almost like we’re addicted to the constant stimulation and instant gratification that screens provide.
News flash–it’s not just your personal habits that contribute to this addiction.
The culture we live in has also played a role in the rise of screen dependency.
With the constant notifications, likes, and comments on social media, it’s hard not to get caught up in the rush of validation and attention.
And with the abundance of instant streaming services and on-demand entertainment, it’s easy to get caught in the cycle of constantly needing to be entertained.
So, how do you manage this?
Take a step back and self analyze the role that instant gratification plays in your screen habits, is it messing with your productivity, or peace of mind?, Then you can think of ways to find balance.
7. Altering Your Self Esteem
It’s not just about the time you’re losing that could be spent on real-life activities, it can also harm your sense of self.
When you’re not building relationships, discovering your passions, or creating new experiences, it can weaken your sense of self-identity and confidence.
And if you’re spending a lot of time on social media, you might start to worry more about your virtual image rather than your real one.
This is especially dangerous for kids and teens, who are at risk of cyberbullying and self-image issues.
And let’s not forget about the addictive nature of screens.
The rush of dopamine we get from using our digital devices activates our brain’s reward center and makes us crave more.
This is why so many people get stuck in the cycle of screen addiction.
8. Sleep Deprivation
Ever wondered how hard it is to fall asleep after a long night of screen time?
Or how tired do you feel in the morning even after a full night’s sleep?
Screens can disrupt our sleep patterns and deprive us of quality rest.
The blue light emitted by screens can mess with our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
And if we’re constantly checking our screens before bed, our minds may have a harder time winding down and entering a restful state.
It’s important to create a bedtime routine that includes disconnecting from screens and creating a calming environment for sleep.
Trust me, you’ll thank yourself in the morning for getting a good night’s rest.
9. Strain on the Eyes and Body Caused by Prolonged Screen Use
Not only can prolonged screen time cause strain and dryness, but it can also lead to retina damage and blurred vision.
And if you already have vision issues like myopia, excessive screen time can only worsen it.
Take breaks and give your eyes rest from the constant staring.
This could mean setting limits on screen time, taking breaks to look at something in the distance, or using artificial tears to help keep your eyes moisturized.
Taking care of our eyes is crucial for maintaining good vision and overall eye health.
Awareness and Caring About Our Health
Now that we know how spending too much time on screens is harmful to our overall health as well as our relationships.
It’s not too late to turn things around. By being mindful of our screen habits and setting limits, we can find balance and make more time for face-to-face interactions with close friends and family.
This could involve setting aside dedicated screen-free time, finding alternative activities to do alone or together, or simply making an effort to put away our screens and be present at the moment.
Investing more of our time in real-life connections can have a positive impact on our well-being and strengthen our relationships.
It’s worth the effort to make the switch from screen time to quality time with the people we care about.