Whether it be increased Microsoft Teams’ meeting, a spike in family Zoom quizzes, or simply just more time spent glued to our mobile phone screens out of boredom, there is no denying that the collective screen time of the nation has grown drastically over the course of the past year.
From the moment we wake up to the second we go to bed we are looking at a screen. Although it’s something we are reluctant to admit, screens for the majority of us are the only constant in our everyday lives – in a year that the only real other constant has been time spent indoors!
Prior to the pandemic and the transportation of the workspace into our front living rooms, findings showed that office workers spent almost 1,700 hours a year staring at a computer screen. Now, realistically, who knows!
Here we look at the health implications involved in spending too much time in front of the screen, and why you should set down the iPad and lift the print option instead.
Although we are all aware that too much screen time is unhealthy, you may not know that it can lead to such dramatic and serious illness. Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is also known as digital eye strain and is caused by prolonged periods of looking at electronic devices such as computers, tablets, and phones. The syndrome can result in several symptoms including:
Our eyes are forced to work harder when spending extended amounts of times staring at a screen. Unlike reading from a book or a newspaper, in which the words are more distinguished and sharply defined, the contrast on a screen is significantly reduced and the likes of glare bouncing back from the screen poses more of a threat to an uninterrupted view.
CVS is most likely to affect those who already need the likes of glasses or contact lenses to improve their vision. Studies have found that even those who don’t usually require a general eye prescription may benefit from glasses specifically designed for use in front of the screen to prevent damage.
During the course of 2020, we witnessed a number of spikes in people searching Google for “how do I know if you need glasses”, suggesting that the growth in time spent in front of our electronics was really beginning to take its toll.
You can treat CVS through the use of solutions however, by making simple changes to the way you view your screen can help reduce the damage caused to your eyes. Altering your display settings, regularly exercising your eyes, and taking frequent breaks from staring at the screen can all prevent the strain caused. Most employers should also have guidelines instructing you on how to set up your workstation appropriately.
Despite technological advancements being a blessing in many ways, sometimes it’s best to switch out our beloved devices for a book.
Scientific research carried out at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology discovered that students using non-digital formats to complete an multiple-choice exam scored 10 per cent higher on average than those completing it on digital devices. This owes to two main reasons. Firstly, you get less distracted, mostly due to the fact the internet isn’t right at your fingers and secondly, having the material in your hands help you visualize just how much you’ve read.
For those who have a job that involves looking at a computer screen for the aforementioned 1,700 hours, giving your eyes a rest from screens in the evening is essential. Findings suggest that using a blue light before sleep can disrupt with your melatonin and circadian cycles, making the process of getting to sleep a whole lot harder. On the other hand, reading some print is deemed an age-old remedy for those struggling with getting some shut eye.
No one is suggesting that we get rid of our digital devices entirely. However, it is worth reassessing the time spent looking at a screen and whether it essential – looking at the same posts repeatedly isn’t.
If you still haven’t settled on a New Year’s Resolution for 2021, why not make it reduced time spent looking at a screen and more time indulging in print materials!