Screen Time Blues: Minimizing the Risks of Excessive Electronic Usage
Although electronics have become an essential part of daily life, they aren’t without their drawbacks. Did you know that you’re less likely to blink when looking at a screen, which can result in uncomfortably dry eyes? Research also tells us that screens emit blue light, which can disturb your circadian rhythm, making it difficult to fall asleep at night and minimizing the rest you get once you do fall asleep. As if that wasn’t enough, high amounts of screen time have been linked to poorer mental health, and it’s all too easy to hunch over when staring at a device, leading to preventable back pains.
That being said, electronics are indispensable in most people’s lives, so finding a balance is important. By taking steps to minimize the risks associated with electronics, you can utilize them more efficiently and improve your quality of life.
How Can I Minimize the Risks?
Look Into Your Screen Time Report
While this won’t minimize the risks associated with screen time, it’ll help you get a better idea of just how much time you spend on your devices, as well as what your weaknesses are. An official analytics report can help you realize that your “quick scroll” through Instagram before bed actually lasts for a few hours, putting you in a better position to cut down excessive usage.
Take Frequent Breaks
Because our devices are portals to both work and entertainment, it can be easy to stay on them non-stop. Taking a break from answering emails to eat lunch? If your schedule is packed and you want to relax, you may be tempted to put on an episode of your favourite show. Unfortunately, while the show might give you a much-needed mental break, your eyes don’t have time to rest, leading to strain and discomfort.
To help your eyes out, you should try to take a quick break from your screen every hour or so. You can use this time as an excuse to grab a snack, refill your water bottle, or even do a little dance – all that matters is that you aren’t staring at a device. Whenever possible, you should try to take longer breaks throughout the day as well. Meals are the perfect opportunity to go screen-free, though you may find yourself missing Netflix if you’ve made a habit of watching it while you eat. If this is the case, try popping on an audiobook or a podcast – you’ll still get the entertainment without the eye strain.
Invest in Blue-light Glasses (or turn on your device’s blue-light filter)
If you frequently find yourself staring at a screen before bed, you should probably look into blue-light glasses. Since they filter out any blue light that might disrupt your circadian rhythm, the glasses ensure that your sleep will be more restful. Anecdotally, I’ve also found my blue-light glasses to relieve eye strain when staring at screens for long periods of time.
If you don’t want to invest in blue-light glasses, most devices have an optional built-in filter that mimics their effect on your circadian rhythm. While these filters aren’t as effective as the glasses (and often leave your screen with an orangey glow), they’re certainly better than nothing.
Turn Down Brightness
While this certainly won’t fix all the issues that screens cause, being mindful of your device’s brightness level and adjusting it depending on lighting can help minimize eye strain.
Watch Your Posture
It’s incredibly easy to forget about posture when you use electronics, and while a few minutes of slouching might not do any harm, it’s far too easy for those few minutes to turn into a few hours, complete with back pains. If you’re constantly mindful of your posture, you can catch yourself when you start to slouch, minimizing if not preventing future aches and pains.