The Impact Of Screen Dependency: 5 Ways It's Damaging Our Health
In today's world, it's practically impossible to go a day without seeing someone with their nose glued to the screen of their phone. Finder's study showed that in 2020, 84% of Brits over 16 own a smartphone, and thanks to technological advances, they're now an integral part of our lives. While there are things you can do without screens, we tend to use them for every aspect of our lives, from communication to navigation. But, is this dependence on screens hurting us? This blog post will discuss how screen dependency affects your physical health as well as mental well being, why you should limit your time with technology, and how to tell if you're dependent on your device!
What Is Mobile Screen Dependency?
Mobile screen dependency (also known as nomophobia) affects more than 66% of the world's population in one way or another. It's a type of addiction where individuals are constantly dependent on their mobile devices. Have you ever taken your phone to the toilet or the dinner table? This kind of behaviour shows an unhealthy attachment to your device, a typical sign of screen dependency. While using a mobile or smartphone isn't necessarily harmful, overuse and constant screen time can lead to both physical and mental problems.
What Are The Negative Effects Of Screen Time?
Anxiety, Stress, And Depression
Anxiety, stress, and depression are extremely common mental issues that could be worsened or even caused by your smartphone. Whether it's social media, news apps, or urgent work emails - sometimes our phones can give us less than pleasant information. Being forever connected and in the loop doesn't give us a break from the stress of the world. As we've seen during Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic, sometimes the news outlets can cause us more stress than relief.
The same can be said for social media, too. Social media is rife with negativity and cyber bullying, which can easily trigger anxiety and stress. Thanks to social media, users often develop the 'compare and despair' attitude. This is where to see things your friends and others are posting on social media, compare it to yourself and your life, and then become unhappy - like when you see a picture of one of your friends on a luxury holiday or a picture of their brand new Tesla car. While it's mostly younger people that struggle with social media due to cyber bullying, 38% of adults think social media is actively harmful for your mental health.
More than 71% of people sleep with or next to their mobile phones at night - a dangerous combination for our sleep. Mobile screen dependency can make it hard for us to part from our devices at night. While some devices offer a 'sleep mode' where blue light is removed from your screen to help you wind down for sleeping, there isn't much to stop you from picking your phone straight back up and scrolling all through the night.
Neck, Back, And Eye Pain
As we know, blue light is the light omitted from screens such as mobile phones, tablets, computers, and TVs. Too much blue light can cause eye strain, headaches, and migraines. A study from Scientific Reports also found that excessive blue light usage can speed up blindness over time. Along with our eye health, our posture can take a punch, too. Most of the time when looking at our phone screens, we slouch, hunch over, and bend our necks down to get a better view of our little portable screens. Constant use of mobile devices will put more strain on your back and neck, and you're more likely to suffer from posture issues in the future.
Low Impulse Control And Concentration
It's a known fact that the more we see adverts and promotional materials, the more likely we are to buy the items being advertised. With social media ads targeting specific audiences and shopping apps making it easier for us to click and buy items, it's easy to see how too much mobile use can lead to impulse buys. A loss of concentration can also be blamed on mobile screen dependency, too. The constant flow of information from smartphones can overwhelm the brain, making it hard to focus on one specific task. The persistent buzzing and pinging of your mobile's notifications is a major distractor and is often the cause behind slow work.
Increased Germ Exposure
It's possible that mobile devices could be making us sicker than usual. Mobiles can carry more germs than door handles and even toilet seats. The most commonly found germ on mobile devices are coliform, which actually indicates fecal contamination. This type of bacteria can cause acne, pink eye, and even the flu - and we could be harbouring it on our mobile phone screens.
With screen dependency, you'll most likely take your phone everywhere, including the bathroom. It's unfortunately all too common, with 88% of people admitting to using their phone while on the toilet, and 46% of people admitting to doing it every time. This makes you more prone to transferring harmful bacteria onto your phone, which then will go all over your hands and even onto your face when you make calls.
How To Tell If You're Screen Dependent?
Dangerous Phone Usage
One sign of dependency is the inability to stop doing something despite the negative consequences. This is exactly what you're doing if you choose to use your phone while driving. If you're unable to part from your screen while driving, it's safe to say you may be suffering from mobile screen dependency or addiction. According to a report by TRL, reaction times are twice as long text driving as drink driving, so you're endangering yourself and others when you do this.
Constant Screen Checking
People in the UK now check their smartphones for an average of every 12 minutes of the waking day. If you have a habit of constantly checking your phone for notifications or a quick browse, you might be addicted to your phone or have screen dependency. Some devices have software that can tell you the average amount of time you spend each day on your mobile, so it might be worth monitoring your daily screen usage to see if you're becoming a little too attached to your mobile.
The Need To Keep Your Phone Close
Do you feel anxious or uneasy without your phone? If you can't leave the house without your phone, or you let the thought of not checking your phone distract you from real life situations, you could have mobile phone dependency. When you give your mobile too much attention, you can lose focus on your surroundings and end up being dependent on it for everything. If you find your eyes wandering towards your phone screen in the middle of a conversation, or you can't help but feel at your pockets for the comfort of your phone, you could be addicted or dependent on it!
Now that you know the signs of screen dependency and how this addiction could be damaging our health, will you be making a change? Even just small changes to your lifestyle might help you break your dependency and addiction to screens, leading you to a healthier, happier life! If you need some help or advice, take these 6 steps to breaking your screen dependency!
Mymanu will be launching a new product that will help people stay connected without the use of screen on 5th January. To be the first to know, register here.