Why was the cell phone wearing glasses? Because it lost its contacts. Where do astronauts hang out? The space bar. What do you call a person who is on their phone for 4.7 hours a day? An average person!
Those 4.7 hours don’t even include the time spent on tablets, laptops, or desktop computers (#hello2003). Time and time again we hear the warnings of screen overuse, but at the end of the day, I screen, you screen, we all screen for electronic screens! What’s so bad about them anyhow?
Let’s start with your eyes. After all, windows are the eyes to the house. Increased screen time has lead to a massive boom in myopia or nearsightedness (the one where you can’t see far away). In China, the rate of myopia in the population has jumped from 10-20 percent in the 1960s to between 80-90 percent now. In the US and Europe, cases of myopia have doubled over the past 50 years. When you focus on screens close to you, it's as if you pick up a free weight. After hours of flexing those muscles with no rest, your eyes are bound to be tired.
Eye already knew that, but what about the effect on backs? Your head weighs anywhere between 10 and 12 pounds. When you look at your phone in your lap, your neck muscles have to work harder to support your massive head. This strain on your neck, or text neck, is the equivalent of an 8 year old sitting on your neck. Talk about a real monkey on your back! There has also been studies that have shown that by sitting in a slouching posture can effect mood and productivity.
Well what about that big ol’ noggin we cart around? In 2008, developmental neuroscientists found that the waves emitted by cell phones can alter mood and sleep patterns by interfering with brainwaves. By controlling the output on phones, they were able to keep people awake and alter behavior during phone calls. Additionally, that pesky blue light can give a shot of energy to your brain, making it difficult to fall asleep. Furthermore, addictive apps with new content or goals to reach give your brain a little dopamine boost to keep you coming back. Over time this can create a compulsion loop. This addictiveness leads to something psychologists are calling nomophobia, or fear of being without a mobile device. A study from the UK found that 53 percent of phone users tend to be anxious when their phone stops working. Before you scoff, there is a quick little quiz to determine if you have nomophobia.
So for the sake of your eyes, back, and brain, give yourself a rest every so often. To prevent eye strain, optometrists recommend the 20-20-20 rule — after 20 minutes of screen time, look at something 20 feet (6 meters) away for 20 seconds or more. For your back and brain, watch your posture while on your phone and try swapping an online world for a real one. Although laying down with a book or a phone can pose the same threat to your face.
C'est la vie!
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