There are countless studies on children and screen time – how it affects them, how much time they should or shouldn’t spend on devices, and the list goes on.

When it comes to screen time and adults, the research isn’t as fleshed out; however, a recent report from the Pew Research Center suggests that parents are just as compromised by screens as their kids.

Smartphones, video games, tablets, or whatever screen you spend your time staring at, can play a significant role in your overall health.

Vision
Digital eyestrain describes a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use.

Many individuals can experience eyestrain when staring at a screen for prolonged periods – the discomfort increases the more time you spend on the screen.
Symptoms can include: 

  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Irritation
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Eyestrain 

Screens also expose your eyes to blue light. The long-term effects of screen exposure are worrisome because of the close proximity of the screens and the length of time spent looking at them.
If you’re already excessively using a screen for work or school, try to minimize your time on other devices. Your peepers will thank you!  

Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, using devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, which makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Over time, this can lead to chronic sleep deficiency.

To help combat this problem, try setting a digital curfew.

Addiction
Spending too much time staring at a screen can restructure the matter that makes up your brain. According to Psychology Today, when using excessive screen time, the area of the brain that processes is compromised, unable to translate and communicate properly.  

In addition to this, dopamine, the ‘feel-good hormone,’ is part of the brain’s pleasure circuits. Playing video games or doing something on a screen you enjoy, turns on similar brain regions – the same as those linked to cravings for drugs and gambling.

Signs of screen addiction can include:

  • Persistent failed attempts to use cell phone less often
  • Preoccupation with device(s) and withdrawal when not using the device(s)
  • Turns to a device when experiencing unwanted feelings such as anxiety or depression
  • Excessive use characterized by loss of sense of time
  • Has put a relationship or job at risk due to excessive device use
  • Excessive need for the newest cell phone, device, apps, etc.

Most devices now have a feature called 'screen time' that allows you to track how much time you spend on each app. 

This feature goes beyond tracking; you can limit your app use as well. The app limits feature will allow you to set a daily allotment of time for different apps. Once you’ve used up your allotted time your phone will block access to it (with an option to ignore just in case).

If you don’t have this feature on your iPhone or use an Android, there are numerous apps you can download that do the same thing. Try My Addictometer, SPACE or App Detox, to name a few.

Weight
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that more screen time can equal more weight. Screen time is associated with inactivity – you’re sitting in front of a TV, computer, video game, etc. and not moving. By now, we know inactivity leads to weight gain.

There are also other factors to think about when it comes to screen time and your weight. For example, sitting in front of a TV can expose you to adds that feature unhealthy foods and drinks – making you more likely to succumb to your cravings. Or, you may not be as mindful and eat more junk food (did that bag of chips suddenly disappear?) or staying up later than you normally would when you’re binging your favourite show.