How Staring At Your Computer Screen And Phone Harms You
The average person in the United States spends over 10 out of every 24 hours in front of a screen.
Yeah. If you're sleeping (let's say) six hours every night, that means your eyes are glued to an electronic device for 55 percent of the hours you're awake.
The same report says this number is only going up. We're spending more and more time staring at screens.
Computer screens, along with our phones, are the main electronic devices we stare at.
Whether you're at home or in the office, staring at a screen -- especially a computer screen -- can cause a lot of problems. You might not be aware of them, or how severe they can be.
1. Social anxiety.
I've worked for start-ups that required more than 90 hours of work per week, most of which involved a computer screen and little social interaction.
After a while, it started to take a toll on me.
Time spent in front of screens, instead of communicating with people face-to-face, harms our social skills.
And don't just take my word for it; virtualization has hampered the millennial generation's face-to-face social skills, according to Dr. Elwood Watson.
Poking, liking and following just isn't the same as a handshake and a relaxed conversation.
2. Eye strain.
The idea of losing your eyesight or having difficulty seeing is a scary thought.
Most days, I take my 20/20 vision for granted.
But there's a growing number of people who suffer from eye strain due to the blue light emitted during computer use.
After a marathon of texting, emailing, checking Facebook and completing assignments for work, my eyes do feel tired.
It can be painful to focus on tiny text on a screen for hours on end.
I've learned to take breaks at least once an hour to minimize the headaches I get from excessive computer use and, more importantly, to use computer glasses that protect my eyes from the harmful rays.
3. Back pain and poor posture.
The most embarrassing side-effect of excessive computer use is the slump.
You know what I'm talking about. We've all seen people that appear hunched over. They seem stuck in the position they use to type on a keyboard and look at a screen for hours and hours.
My posture has certainly become worse over the years, and a lot of that is because I spend too much time at my desk.
I've learned that during my hourly breaks, it helps to get up and take a walk.
Try standing upright and stretching out your ribcage. Throwing back my shoulders for 10-20 seconds after an hour at my desk feels amazing.
And, my girlfriend swears that I'm less of a hunchback than when I first started my long hours in front of my screens and keyboard.
4. Carpal tunnel syndrome.
Do you ever feel a tightening sensation in your wrist or forearm?
For me, it started as a slight discomfort in my right wrist.
The longer I spent typing, the more the pain started to radiate from my wrist into my palm, and even to my elbow.
Typing 92 words per minute might sound impressive but it doesn't feel very impressive after a few hours at the computer.
My doctor told me I was suffering from inflammation in my wrist, caused by repetitive motion. If nothing else, during those long hours at work, I was doing a ton of typing.
Of course, everyone is different, and if you have any pain, it's always wise to seek help from a doctor. In my case, a wrist support did the trick and has allowed me to type with comfort.
Computers are dangerous.
If I've learned anything, spending too much time in front of a screen can be harmful; from my vision to my range of motion in my dominant hand, it's important to pay attention to the needs of the only body we'll ever have.
If you're experiencing any of the symptoms I did while working on a computer, seek medical help and consider taking regular breaks from the screen.