Did you know the more time you spend online, the more your health is negatively impacted? It’s true.
In fact, there are a lot of health issues associated with being attached to your smartphone that can actually hurt your mental and physical health.
Health issues from spending too much time online
- Increased levels of anxiety — Social media anxiety is an actual mental health condition. The more technology we acquire and use, the more stressed out we become. In fact, nearly 20 percent of people with social media accounts report not being able to go in excess of three hours without checking their accounts. Obsessed? You bet. But, that’s not all. Because people spend so much time online, it causes stress and anxiety because other things are not being accomplished in the real world.
- Increased depression — Have you heard of FOMO? That’s Fear Of Missing Out, and when too much time is spent online, we start to think about what we could be missing out … which can lead to depression. Social media brings out a darker side of people, one fueled by the reality that they aren’t measuring up to the carefully curated lives others are posting on social media.
- Vision issues — Computer Vision Syndrome (also known as Digital Eye Strain) comes from spending so much time each day looking at your phones, tablets or computer screens. Symptoms include eye strain, red eyes, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain.
- Weight gain — Sitting around being on a phone or tablet or computer means just that — you’re sitting and not moving. Not only that, but there’s a tendency to exercise less because you’re online, as well as eat quick meals (like fast food).
- Text neck — Does your neck hurt? It could be “text neck,” a result of bending your neck over your smartphone. As the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine increases. So, if you’re bending your neck at a 60-degree angle, there’s a whopping 60 pounds of pressure on your spine. But, that’s not all. Over time, this leads to early wear-and-tear on the spine and spinal degeneration which can lead to surgery.
Why cut down on the time you spend online?
If the health implications aren’t enough for you to cut down your time online, let’s look at the way time spent online impacts your day-to-day life and interpersonal skills.
Without having a balance of time spent offline, we lose the ability to communicate effectively. Our ability to maintain eye contact diminishes, as well as the idea of when to use it. We also lose the ability to speak confidently on the phone or in person. Because we live in a time when text messages rule, and social media has impacted kids in regard to how to hold conversations offline, youth aren’t able to communicate as effectively or listen as well. Social cues are often missed. Spending so much time online also greatly decreases attention span. In the past decade, our attention span has gone from 12 seconds to eight.
Spending too much time online also results in a decrease in sense of self. When you communicate with other people face-to-face, you can gather a sense of who you are and what value you provide to others in relationships. Relationships are dynamic, and the more time spent online, the less you bring to the table in real world relationships.
How to cut down your family’s time online and improve your health
- Join an organization or club. Get active in a community purpose … without your phone.
- Set alarms on your phone. Use your technology to remind you about not using your technology.
- Establish a “fun time” for technology, and if you’re a parent, monitor what’s being accessed using monitoring apps.
- Schedule workout activities for your body and your mind, like meditation and yoga, as well as exercise.
- Set boundaries with your family by creating a technology contract that outlines when it is ok to be online and when it is not.
- Set boundaries with employers and work. Manage expectations and implement rules like not responding to emails during certain hours and days.
- Set boundaries with friends regarding online response times, such as telling them if they text during dinner, they will get a response when you are done.
- Limit the number of apps you and your family downloads or has on their devices. I suggest no more than two social networks. It’s like a closet — if you download one app, remove one.
- Never keep your technology devices in the bedroom.
Do you want to improve your child’s health and implement best practices for their time spent online? Learn more about our home program that helps you do just that!