So I think at this point we all know that staring at screens all day is, um, bad. Or at least, not particularly good for you. But based on these new findings about the downsides of extended personal time with your devices, I'm going to cut back once and for all, because the weird side effects of staring at screens all day sound deeply unpleasant. Or at least, I will try to cut down. I will say very decidedly that I want to cut down. I will think, as I stare at my phone and computer throughout the day, that I really, really should be cutting down.
Smart phones, laptops, tablets — these digital devices and their uses have become woven into the way we go about daily life. 90 percent of Americans spend at least two hours a day on their devices; 65 percent report physical symptoms.
One of the biggest reasons why things like Computer Vision Syndrome are on the rise — yes, I know that sounds made up but I promise it's not — are due to a rise in younger generations (I'm not going to say "Millennials" because we get blamed for everything) becoming increasingly comfortable with staring at multiple screens. 70 percent of 10,000 adults recently polled by the The Vision Council report using more than one device simultaneously.
...Oh, so that's, like, a bad thing?
While I do like my computer and my smartphone very much, the downsides to using them too much are more than just, like, not as much free time because I wasted 30 minutes on Candy Crush again. There are physical side effects. Physical side effects that I do not want because I'm a baby, but also because I like my eyes and spine and don't want them to be permanently damaged. Here are a few of them.
1. Dry Eyes
Blinking is important when facing an extended amount of face time with your digital device. Sounds overly simply, because, like, everybody already blinks, but most people tend to hold their devices eight to 12 inches away from their faces — a distance that decreases the amount of times you blink per minute.
2. Blurred Vision
Blue light, the light emitted from your computer screen, has been studied for some time for its pretty across-the-board detrimental properties. Long-term exposure to this particular kind of light, which is very similar to UV light, can damage cells on the inside of our eyes. You know, retinal cells. You know, like vision-producing cells.
Lab mice who were exposed to 3.5 hours of bright light, similar to that of a computer screen, and then 3.5 hours of darkness, as a way of mimicking, for example, the urge to watch a movie in bed and then go to sleep. Within a few weeks, the mice were experiencing higher rates of depression and producing higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
Oh, so, like, blurry vision and dry eyes can also cause headaches? Weird how our fragile bodies are like a line of dominoes. One pieces falls and the next thing you know, we're dunzo.
Did you know that you can experience motion sickness just by looking at your phone? Yep — it's called Cyber Sickness, and it occurs when your body senses a discrepancy between your static body and whatever crazy stuff is happening on your phone. So that's cool.
6. Neck and Back Pain
If you don't hunch at least a little bit over your computer or phone, I have yet to see you walking around. Like, we all do it. But because we spend, you know, an average of two hours a day on our devices, that means we're hunched a lot, every day. And our spines are not meant to be hunch-y. They should be straight and tall and proud, and other noble-sounding words.