Let’s talk a moment to talk about screens (and yes, we realize that you are reading this on a screen right now 😂).
Still, all this screen time is changing the way we live and almost all of us are spending too much time on our screens (phones, computers, laptops, and others).
Here are a few important points to note…..and tips that can help!
👀 SCREENS CAN STRAIN OUR EYES
Screens may increase the risk of dry eyes, vision changes, and even headaches. Increasing your physical distance from the screen, taking screen breaks every 20 minutes or so, and getting outside to increase exposure to natural light can help. Remembering to blink, making sure lighting in the room is not too dim or too bright to minimize glare, and ensuring regular vision screening are also helpful actions (https://bit.ly/3fIbtky and https://bit.ly/3fcKtdX).
🏃🏿♀️ SCREENS CAN ENCOURAGE POOR BODY MECHANICS
Remember tech neck? Whether or not you are worried about body mechanics or wrinkles on your neck, a few things are certain – crunching the neck to look at a screen, decreasing physical activity, and worsening body posture can all contribute to physical strain. Creating an ergonomic work station, focusing on physical activity, incorporating stretches and exercises targeting the neck, back, and muscles involved in posture can all help. Key points include: position screens at eye level, move screens at least one arm’s length away, and sit all the way back in a chair while sitting (Expert tips here: https://k-p.li/3u7MQDj and https://bit.ly/3oLCHef).
🛌 SCREENS CAN DISRUPT SLEEP AND ROUTINES
The use of screens at night can influence when people fall asleep and how long they sleep. This may be because sleep schedules are changed, people are more awake after using electronics and screens, and the light form screens (blue light) can make people feel more awake. To improve sleep, experts recommend making the bedroom cold, dark and boring; limiting screen use before bedtime; keeping electronics out of the bedroom; establishing a calming bedtime routine; and setting up the phone with nighttime mode to encourage dimmer/warmer light at night (https://bit.ly/3wqLrch and https://bit.ly/3oHG2Lh).
🧠 SCREENS CAN INFLUENCE OUR MENTAL HEALTH
Frequent scrolling of the news and isolation due to screen use can influence our mental health. Remember doomscrolling? But there is also potential for positive interaction through the screen. Beyond joy scrolling (seeking out good news stories), engaging with screens to connect with others (for faith based groups, substance use support, or social activities), to do exercise, and to learn/engage the mind can all support our mental health.
🤢 SCREENS CAN MAKE US FEEL SICK TO OUR STOMACHS
Recent reports suggest that people can have symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, fatigue, headache, and vomiting due to screen use. This is called cyber sickness and it relates to motion sickness. Interestingly, this is likely due to our intense focus (and lack of awareness of what is going on around us) when using a screen, lack of movement when using a screen, and increased time spent on one screen activity. Adapting how one uses screens can help-moving the screen further away from the body, using it in a brighter room (not the bedroom), and incorporating movement. (Read here for more on cybersickness.)
📝 Of course, it is difficult to minimize screen time if you have to be on the computer for work, school, or other activities. But think about the ways that you are able to cut down on screen time. Use the tips included here to guide you. Make one small change and stick with it. And then move on to the next one. Little changes can make a huge difference in improving our screen health.
Stay safe. Stay sane.
Those Nerdy Girls