👋 How Can We Help Make Health Care Better?
It may surprise you to learn that the average American stares at screens an astounding seven hours and 11 minutes each day1. As the pandemic drags on, screen usage has only increased — along with a range of related health issues2.
A growing number of studies have shown that excessive screen time can have a significant impact on the physical and mental health of adults as well as children. Findings have focused attention on a number of key areas.
Research by the National Sleep Foundation has shown that using devices with screens before bed can make it harder to fall and stay asleep. The blue light emitted by smartphones can increase feelings of alertness, while activities like texting, social media engagement, and gaming can stimulate the brain, increase feelings of anxiety, and make it more difficult to relax2.
Poor-quality sleep has been linked to an array of health conditions, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and obesity. To help reduce health risks, doctors and sleep-hygiene professionals recommend making a habit of turning off screens at least an hour before bedtime and giving yourself time to unwind.
The more time we spend on screens, the less time we spend engaging in healthy physical activities. Excessive screen time can be associated with a more sedentary lifestyle that can result in a higher risk factor for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and increased blood pressure or cholesterol3. Even more reason to put down the device, close the laptop, shut down the computer, and get moving — preferably outside.
Back and Neck Pain
Spending hours sitting hunched over a screen can lead to improper posture as well as chronic neck, shoulder, and back pain. Experts suggest taking regular breaks from screens to stand up, walk around, or stretch at least once an hour3. Set a timer to remind yourself to get up and step away.
Mental Health Issues
Research increasingly shows the impact of excessive screen time on mental health, especially in teens and young adults. A study from San Diego State University suggests a correlation between screen usage and severe depression among teenagers4. Screen time can also contribute to feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, and low self-esteem5.
Conversely, studies also show that replacing screen usage with more physical activities, outdoor time, and in-person connections can help improve feelings of mental wellbeing, optimism, and confidence4.
With more Americans spending more time in front of screens, doctors are seeing an uptick in patients with vision issues, including dry eyes, eye strain, blurred vision, headaches, and nearsightedness that may be linked to blue-light exposure and overwork6.
To avoid digital eye strain, ophthalmologists recommend the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes you’re on a screen, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds or more to allow the eye muscles to relax7.
Use Your Health Plan Resources
Cutting down on screen time can be difficult, especially when it’s become such an ingrained part of our daily lives both at work and with family. You may need the guidance of a provider to create a plan for transitioning away from screens to more healthy habits. You may also want to choose a health plan that offers practical tips and tools to help you put those healthy habits into practice.
At SureCo, we care about your whole health — mental, physical, and emotional. We’re here to connect you to the right health plan that addresses your whole-health needs. Call (800) 467-4898 to explore your options. Continue to keep up with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter to be the first to know when our new blogs are posted.
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