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Future Health






Screen Time

December 7, 2016 

As Americans, we have become obsessed with technology. Studies show that Americans on average check their phones nearly 50 times a day. This doesn’t include the other screens and modern technology that surround us, including TVs, tablets and other devices. These devices seem to demand our undivided attention and have almost unlimited capabilities. Yet our devices have come to occupy more and more of our daily lives, and have taken a toll on our health and well-being.

 

So while these tools can help us at work and at home, and to keep us connected with family and friends, we should be mindful of the possible detrimental effects they have on our vision, stress levels, and eating and sleeping patterns. Checking email, Facebook or Twitter in between other screen use, can leave us feeling agitated and overwhelmed.

 

Effects to watch for include:

 

  • Poor posture as you hunch over a computer, tablet or phone. This can cause lower back pain as you age.
  • Lower melatonin levels released by the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin is responsible for falling asleep and staying asleep. Individuals who use screens right before bed may find it tough to get enough sleep.
  • Lack of sleep from diminished levels of melatonin can lead to other health problems such as a weakened immune system.
  • Higher dopamine levels released by neurons in the brain that result in attention deficit symptoms and trouble staying on task.
  • Increase in stress in the body, which leads to elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that can cause health issues from anxiety to heart disease when excessive amounts are present in the body for prolonged periods of time.
  • Overconsumption of food from eating while watching television or another screen, as well as a lessened feeling of fullness and satisfaction.
  • Screens often make us more sedentary and can interfere with more active pursuits such as participation in exercise and sports.
  • Addiction to videogames and social media, which can be serious mental health concerns that interfere with our daily lives.

 

For all the benefits of our screens and technology, we should be aware of the potential downsides that come with them so that we can make sure we can reap the positive without sacrificing our health in the process.