It’s crazy how technology has changed over the years. When I was in middle school, my sister and I had to share a flip phone and had to pay for individual texts. Now, my brother is in middle school and his school provides each student with an iPad for textbooks. It is INSANE how much technology has evolved, and how my childhood differs from my brothers’ since they grew up with all of the advances. Sometimes with this new generation of technological advances, it makes me wonder how all of this ‘screen time’ is affecting our overall health.
As medical students, we are studying with a lot of electronic resources. PDF textbooks, PowerPoint presentations, Word documents of class notes, video resources, and diagrams on the internet. Outside of studying, we are constantly on our phones, tablets, and laptops communicating with friends and catching up with family back home. Although these devices bring convenience to our daily lives, the constant screen time, in excess, can have a negative effect on our health. Late at night when we should be falling asleep, we are kept awake by the notifications on our phones and scrolling through social media sites. The light emitted from the screens is called ‘blue light’, which simulates daylight, keeps us awake, and makes it difficult for us to fall asleep. Over time, this is detrimental because we are running on lack of sleep. Not to mention the damage it can cause to our eyes long-term.
Another issue of screen time is the constant strain we are placing on our eyes, neck, and hands. Staring at the screen causing strain on muscles from being still without breaks. Screen time can also promote sedentary activity because to comfortably use your phone or other electronic devices, you should be sitting or standing still. We all know how easy it is to turn a 5-minute study break into an hour-long session of scrolling through our favorite websites.
Try and reduce your screen time now to prevent health issues later on in life. Alternate between hard copy textbooks and PDF books. Limit the amount of time you spend on devices while studying written notes. Set limits for yourself regarding the use of electronic devices. Be sure to take breaks from screens at least 1-2 times per hour to prevent eye strain and neck stiffness. Follow the “20-20-20 rule”: every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away, for 20 seconds at a time. Discover hobbies and activities to do with friends that get you off your devices and away from the screens.
What are some daily techniques you implement to reduce your screen time?