In this article, we are going to discuss the potential health consequences of too much screen time. While doing it, we will aim to support the accuracy of below given potential risks of prolonged screen time with the experts’ views and related scientific studies.
However, before we dive into the potential health risks induced by excessive screen time, let’s briefly talk about how digital devices have become an inseparable part of our lives.
Increased Screen Time
It is needless to say that we are living in a digital world. As a result of this, objects around us are becoming more and more digital each passing day.
Self-driving cars, wireless headset, robot vacuums, electric scooters, laptops, smartphones, smart TVs, to name but a few.
While it is obvious that technology is constantly improving our lives in many ways, on the other hand, a great number of people around the world experience some side effects of digital devices, especially the ones with the screen.
Experts warn us particularly about prolonged screen time. Studies indicate that the average screen time has dramatically increased nearly every part of the world.
To give an example; Residents of Arizona use their phone almost 5 hours a day, according to a survey.
Many of us have to use computers to work, almost all of us use smartphones to stay connected, kids can’t spend a day without playing video games and even grandparents at the age of 70 or 80 have Facebook accounts in this modern age. These all can give us a hint of how much our daily screen time can be.
It bears repeating that technology and digital devices have made everything significantly easy. But as the old saying goes, too much of a good thing is bad.
If your screen time is too much – regardless of the reasons working, chatting, social media, playing a video game or watching a movie – then you might be making yourself susceptible to certain health risks.
8 Potential Health Consequences of Too Much Screen Time
Here are the 8 Potential Health Consequences of Too Much Screen Time. Being aware of these potential health risks of using digital devices for long hours can turn us into more conscious screen users.
1- Ruined Eye Health
Eyes are arguably the most damaged organ due to prolonged screen time.
If you are looking at computer, smartphone or tablet’s screen for an extended period of time every day, you should know that you are harming your eye health.
Because, the excessive use of these electronic devices can bring about many eye disorder, some are quite serious like macular degeneration.
In fact, this phenomenon has a special name. Scientists call it Digital Eye Strain. American Optometric Association defines Digital Eye Strain as a group of vision-related problems occur due to prolonged computer, tablet or cell phone use.
Dry eyes, blurred vision and eyestrain are the most common consequences of too much screen time, nevertheless, prolonged screen use isn’t the sole causes of these eye problems.
There is a great number of scientific studies that demonstrate the positive correlation between increased eyes disorder and increased screen time.
According to a study; more than 80 per cent of adolescents in Taiwan suffer from myopia. This is mostly attributed to too much screen time.
It is estimated that approximately 40 per cent of the world population will be nearsighted by 2030. According to experts, the digital lifestyle is one of the most contributing factors for this expected increase.
As such, it is a necessity to say that unless you do great care to protect your eye health, especially if you are using electronic devices for an extended period of time every day, there can be serious consequences.
2- Physical Problems
Physical problems such as lower back pain, stiff neck, muscle cramps and etc, are also said to have increased in the recent two decades owing to too much screen time.
It shouldn’t be too hard to estimate. Because, if you visualise your spine position or your posture, for instance, as you are texting to your friend with your smartphone on the street, you can understand why the use of electronic devices – particularly smartphones and computers – increased musculoskeletal problems.
In a thorough scientific report, researchers concluded that too much screen time significantly increase the risk of neck, shoulder and muscle pain in adolescents.
Constantly bending down to look at your smartphone, sitting a long time in a wrong position in front of a computer screen are only two examples of how too much screen can pose musculoskeletal problems in different parts of the body.
Therefore, do show great care to your posture while using computer, smartphone or tablet to protect your physical health.
3- Decreased Sleep Quality
There can be various reasons why you “may” deal with sleep problems, ranging from stress to an underlying health condition.
However, according to scientists; prolonged screen time, especially right before bedtime , are the main sleep-disrupting factor of the modern world.
Since they are small (smartphones) enough to fit our hand, they can come with us to the bed. As a result of this, your sleep can be disrupted, even though you may not notice.
Why digital screens negatively affect sleep quality is explained with the decreased amount of melatonin secretion. Melatonin is the hormone that prepares you to sleep by making you sleepy. However, blue lights emitted digital screens suppress melatonin secretion in the body thus ruins your sleep quality, according to WebMD.
Prolonged sleep disorders bring about various health problems. Therefore, leave your blue-light emitting electronic devices aside 1 hour before going to the bed to get a good night’s sleep.
4- Weight Gain
Undoubtedly, another thing that the digital world brought to our lives is the sedentary life, thus weight gain.
Children used to play different games in parks and gardens running around. Unfortunately, many children in this modern age play computer games for long hours at home. This, as one would expect, significantly limits their physical activity and development.
The same inference can easily apply to adults. Since the time spent in front of digital screens increased, conversely physical activity decreased. Sedentary lifestyle unavoidably lead many adults to weight gain around the world, yet especially in developed countries.
According to an article published on the Harvard School of Public Health; an average American spends more than 10 hours a day looking at screens. This immense screen time undoubtedly paves the way for sedentary life and weight gain consequently.
Endeavour to be as physical activity as possible during the day to avoid weight gain and related medical conditions.
5- Heart Problems
This one is quite related to the previous section namely weight gain/sedentary lifestyle. As we mentioned shortly before, prolonged screen time leads people to sedentary life, that in turn, weight gain and obesity.
Even though too much screen time may not directly affect your heart health, it promotes strong risk factors for heart disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
According to the Daily Telegraph’s report; spending more than two hours a day watching Tv increases the risk of high blood pressure in children. This must include watching videos or playing video games for long hours. As indicated earlier, high blood pressure is a strong risk factor for heart disease.
Prolonged screen use can bring about obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of them can potentially set the stage for heart disease.
Try to stay active as much as possible during the day to prevent heart disease.
6- Impaired Brain Functions
Scientific article with the title of screen time and brain, published on Harvard University Medical School, gives an insight on how badly too much screen time affects brain health.
In the article, experts revealed various consequences of too much screen time on brain health. For instance, researchers indicated that prolonged screen time destroys imagination and creativity.
Moreover, many school-age children found to suffer from memory problems owing to excessive screen time.
Another way that prolonged screen use potentially affecting your brain health is about blue lights that disrupt your sleep quality, as we discussed above. Decreased sleep quality can take a toll on your brain health, especially in the long run.
To avoid potential brain impairment occur due to too much screen time, try to use electronic devices in moderation.
It might appear that the game you play on your computer or your phone, the Tv series you regularly watch – social media platforms you always spending time are helping you to deal with anxiety and depression by reducing your stress level. However, some well-rounded scientific studies are indicating the exact opposite.
According to experts, too much screen time can potentially lead individuals, regardless of age, to mental problems such as depression or anxiety.
According to a comprehensive study, prolonged screen time is a solid contributing factor for anxiety and depression in adults.
At the same time, prolonged screen use affects children’s mental health. In the report published by Science Daily, it is evident that there is a relationship between excessive screen time and suicidal attempts – suicide risk.
Therefore, avoid using digital devices for an extended period of time in order to reduce the risk of mental problems.
According to Houston Methodist Hospital, excessive screen time are among the headache causes. But, they underline the fact that excess screen time is an indirect cause of headaches.
Based on their explanation, excess screen time causes eye strain, which can potentially cause headaches.
Furthermore, prolonged screen time can trigger headaches by disrupting the quality of sleep. When the sleep disturbed at the night, it paves the way for headaches in the following day.
Therefore, protect your eyes from blue light-emitting devices before sleep to reduce the risk of headaches.
The Bottom Line
Throughout the article, we discussed the potential consequences of too much screen time on your both mental and physical health.
You might have to look at your computer screen for long hours at work, you may be enjoying spending too much time on the social media platforms, or you are studying intensively in front of a computer. There can be many reasons why you spend long hours on screens.
Since these devices are an inseparable part of our lives, you can’t and shouldn’t completely stop using these devices.
However, you should know how much time is too much for you while using these devices. Because no one knows exactly how much is too much when it comes to using electronic devices.
Protect your eyes, leave your mobile phone aside before bed, try to stay active and spend more time your loved ones instead of scrolling down.
These things may reduce the risk of potential health consequences we discussed above.
Simply put use these devices in a way that can’t harm you.
Finally, you may want to talk to your health care provider if you think you have health problems related to excessive screen time.
Tarkan is an experienced health writer ( currently more than 600 articles ) and also the founder of this website namely www.neededforhealth.com. His expertise in health stems from in-depth medical research and knowledge which he obtained over the course of many years.
Tarkan enjoys sharing factual knowledge on health, psychology and nutrition. He always aims to deliver evidence-based recommendations, provide links to related scientific studies.