How To Prevent The Effects of Excessive Screen Time
In today’s modern society, we find ourselves on screens constantly. Whether you’re an adult at work, or a youth in school and everyone during their free time, screens have become practically impossible to live without.
While they make our lives easier in so many ways, (how did we EVER live without email, texting, and apps?) they also cause their fair share of bodily stress injuries.
For example, have you noticed that when you’re sitting at a computer for any length of time, multiple body parts start to get achy and stiff? Maybe your back starts to slouch, putting you into poor posture.
Next, your head leans forward, more and more, until before you know it, your nose is almost touching the screen.
Do your wrists hurt after lots of typing? Or, for gamers, too much time at the video game controller?
For those of us experiencing excessive screen time, and repeating certain movements or holding poor body posture when using screens, we are highly prone to repetitive stress injuries.
What are repetitive stress injuries (RSI)?
Repetitive stress injuries (RSI), which start off as slight strains but can grow into much bigger and more painful body damage, are a real concern.
It’s possible you’ve experienced repetitive stress injury symptoms but weren’t sure of the cause. For gamers or anyone at the computer for hours at a time, there would be several RSI’s that are quite common:
- Pain in the upper back, neck, and shoulders
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and/or forearms
- Chronically cold hands
- Tightness or burning feeling in hands, wrists, forearms, or fingers
- Fatiguing easily while online
- Eye strain, pain, or near-sightedness
- Lack of quality sleep due to pain, or excessive blue light exposure
If you’re noticing any symptoms, awareness is key. Ask yourself if you’re experiencing the effects of excessive screen time. It’s much easier to heal from a mild case of forearm or wrist fatigue because you paid attention to the early warning signs than it is to cure Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
5 Tips to prevent repetitive stress injuries
Let’s discuss a few ways that you can take care of your body while on screens to ensure you don’t wind up with physical problems. The excess stress they cause can be challenging to reverse once they get past a certain point.
1. Maintain good posture
While many of us enjoy sitting on the couch with a laptop, or relaxing in a cozy chair while gaming, scrolling through social media or watching YouTube videos, the truth is these positions are horrible for our backs and necks.
Good posture means you’re sitting upright with feet flat on the floor. You may even want to consider purchasing an ergonomically designed chair.
2. Adjust your screen
The position of your screen should be adjusted in a way that doesn’t make your head drop forward and cause your neck to bend. Try raising it to eye level. Our heads are heavy! If your neck has to work at holding it in this unhealthy position, then you’re in for some serious neck pain rather quickly.
How much time do you spend in front of your devices? Check out these healthy screen time recommendations for your entire family.
3. Keep your wrists straight
Also, be aware of awkward locations of your keyboard and mouse. Ideally, your arms should be at a 90-degree angle at the elbow.
Take “wrist rests” often! Do frequent wrist circles and arm stretches to bring the blood flow back into the upper extremities.
4. Walk away from the computer at least once an hour.
This will give your whole body the break it needs to get the blood flowing, interrupt negative positions you may have succumbed to, allow your eyes to rest, and also go grab a drink of water.
5. Wear blue light blocking glasses
Put on a pair of Swannies glasses while on screens to protect your eyes from digital strain, and your brain from too much blue light. This will not only ensure your eyes tire less quickly, but it will also help you sleep better so your body can rest, heal and be ready for the next day.
Excessive screen time effects, if caught early, can be reversed and can teach us all a valuable lesson about the importance of listening to our bodies. Since technology is a huge part of our lives, we need to learn how to live with it well so that it benefits us, rather than hinders us.
Over 60% of Americans suffer from digital eye strain caused by frequent computer use. Are you one of them? Find out here.
DO YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR LIFESTYLE?
Start by limiting your daily blue light exposure with blue light blocking glasses.