Tuesday 21 November 2017

Health risks of electronic screens

In the tech heavy, electronic fuelled world we live in electronic screens play a significant role in everyday life for most people. Whether for work or play electronic screens have become vital in our day to day life. Smartphones, tablets and laptops are devices that become integrated into our way of life.

They are a gateway to the world wide web, allowing us to have a wealth of information at our disposal at the touch of a button. They allow us to step out from the office and work on the go. They help us keep a finger on the pulse of news around the globe. They allow us to shop for anything and everything from the comfort of our own home. They enable us to share and connect with others as we engage and interact on social media.

Whilst there are an array of benefits to be had from electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets, there are downsides too.
Obviously issues such as cyberbullying, trolls and cyber crime are serious, one issue with electronic devices such as smartphone and tablets that is perhaps often overlooked and not considered is the impact they have on our health.

Neck and back pain
It is well known sitting at a desktop or laptop for long periods of time can cause physical problems. Unfortunately the position of sitting at a desktop computer for hours at a time is not good for posture and puts a strain on the body, affecting the neck and back. As such chronic neck and/or back pain is common for people who work in offices where they spend the majority of their work day sat at a computer.

Whilst people acknowledge that sitting at a computer for hours and hours causes neck and back pain, with vast research and design being dedicated to creating ergonomic work environments and office furniture, it is overlooked that staring down at a smartphone or tablet as you tap away also causes neck and back problems. The position of your body as you gaze at the screen in your hands causes stress on your muscles and tendons, causing a stiff sore neck which if repeated daily will over time cause long term pain.

With devices on hand such as smartphones that allow us to be connected to the world 24 hours a day we can be the victims of being ‘always on’. As a nation we are becoming increasingly accustomed to being contactable everywhere we go and always able to get online for work or play. There are benefits to this way of life but being ‘always on’ can also cause stress.

Never being able to switch off from work or being addicted to your smartphone, social media savvy life can take a toll on people mentally. Taking a break from your smartphone can be beneficial to your health and well-being. Every once in awhile step away from your smartphone and ignore the pings of notifications.

Repetitive stress
Thanks to making repetitive movements when using smartphones and tablets we can be subject to repetitive stress injuries. The repeated use of smartphones can cause joint, muscle, tendon and nerve pressure and damage, causing conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Think about how we hold our smartphones in a static position as we tap away with a finger or two - our lifestyle of excessive texting can cause inflamed tendons and degeneration of joints.

Eye issues
Using a smartphone, tablet or similar electronic screen device can also cause repetitive stress to the eyes causing eye pain and headaches.

In addition the blue light from smartphones and tablets is reported to negatively affect eye health. Scientific studies have found that too much exposure to blue light or high-energy visible (HEV) light emitted from smartphones, tablets and laptops can damage the light sensitive cells in the retina.

To protect eye health from HEV light the use of a blue light filter for electronic screens can be very beneficial and practical as it reduces blue light exposure. Not only is it helpful in protecting eye health but as blue light exposure can also negatively affect sleep and according to some experts damage skin health using a blue light filter can be beneficial to overall health and wellbeing.

Have you suffered any adverse health effects from using electronic screen devices such as smartphones and tablets?

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