Our phones have become a part of us accompanying us everywhere we go. You get to work everyone is on their phones, in your room everyone is on their phones, driving accidents because people were driving and texting and so much more. But have we stopped to think about what all this screen time is doing to us? Does it affect or sleep? What about our lives in general? I doubt we have.
When we use our phones for extended periods of times in we tend to develop what is known as computer vision syndrome (CVS) due to an increased amount of blue light. Some symptoms of CVS include headaches, blurred vision, neck pain, fatigue, eye strain, dry eyes, irritated eyes, double vision, vertigo/dizziness, polyopia, and difficulty refocusing the eyes.
Also, some of the research suggests that continued exposure to blue light over time could lead to damaged retinal cells and this can cause vision problems such as age-related macular degeneration. None of these symptoms is permanent and is alleviated when you take a break from the computer screen.
One way to prevent this is the “20-20-20” rule: every 20 minutes, shift your eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Taking regular breaks is also important for resting the eyes, blinking, and limiting eye strain. Some apps such as less time and Flpd help to regulate screen time.
Some helpful tips to reduce strain on your eyes include: avoiding using a computer outside or in brightly lit areas as the glare on the screen can create strain, adjusting the brightness and contrast of your computer screen so that it feels comfortable to you and using a good posture when using a computer and when. Remember to blink when watching a screen.
Talking about the harmful effects of blue light, studies also show that it disturbs our circadian rhythm. Simply put it affects our sleep cycle and hampers our ability to go to bed. Ever wondered why you could use your phone on your bed and not fall asleep for a long while? It is because of the blue light.
It also affects the quality of sleep. Ask anyone who wakes up tired and 3 out of 5 people looking at a digital screen right before sleep. To combat this, there are some apps such as Twilight for Android and Flux for iPhone which help reduce the amount of blue light your phone emits. You could also go for a blue light screen protector for computers. However, do yourself a favour and put down your tablet or phone at least 1 hour before bed to get a restful sleep.
Perhaps the most damage smartphones do to us is to cause us to procrastinate important things we have to do in our lives. It is so easy to get lost in Twitter or Youtube or Instagram and get lost in all the videos. The reason it’s so easy is that your brain doesn’t get really have to do anything you basically just consuming the information much of which you won’t remember after a week as opposed to learning which requires active uptake of information.
It takes really pressing matters to get out of that trap and people barely survive. We could manage procrastination by ensuring we start our day without our phones. Honestly, nothing beats waking in the morning and planning your day.
Because you have already planned your day, even if you get caught in your phone you have a general idea of what you have today and can get more done relative to using your phone all morning and dashing out of bed 30 minutes to lectures without having a cue of what your day would look like. You can set your phone on aeroplane mode or turn your data off so even if you pick up your phone there would be zero notifications.
As much us the advantages of technology far outweigh the disadvantages, let us remember to take care of our bodies too by controlling our use of these devices.