Increased screen time hits the society

08 August, 2020

Increased screen time hits the society

COVID-19 pandemic has brought in a lot of drastic changes in everybody’s life and in the whole world as such.

With lockdowns imposed for arresting the spread of coronavirus, everybody stuck at home, workplaces not functioning, schools being shut down, the only easiest thing we can do is to sit in front of the screen, whether it is for work, entertainment or relaxation or even to pass the unending hours of sitting at home.

Since COVID-19 doesn't seem to be going anywhere, anytime soon (with no cure or vaccine being found) we are most likely to be stuck at home for an extended period and will have to learn to make the most of life at home.

We also need to follow safety guidelines to ensure we do not get infected like washing our hands regularly, not touching the eyes or mouth, covering the face while coughing or sneezing and wearing a mask whenever stepping out of our house.

With all the things confined at one place that is our home, it is normal that we tend to spend maximum time on screen, be it either online classes, office work, checking out for latest updates on social media, entertainment, various apps, games, etc. Hours we usually spend in cars, shopping malls or with friends are now spent indoors — in front of our TVs, computers and smartphones.

Children mostly complain of:
  • Eye strain, headache, pain in and around the eye, frequent rubbing of the eyes, watering, redness, sleep disorders, behavioral issues, difficulty in concentrating.
  • Neck, shoulder and back pain.
Adults have similar and enhanced issues:
  • Physical strain to the eyes leads to drying and enhanced myopia occasionally and sensitivity to light can trigger migraine attacks
  • Body symptoms like stiffness, pain in the neck and shoulder
  • Sleep deprivation and disturbances
  • Increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
  • Impairments in social skills and weakened emotional judgment along with lower self-esteem

In times like the current pandemic, it is important to realize the detrimental effects of enhanced screen time following the use of digital devices. It is imperative to take steps to mitigate this with simple techniques, rather than overloading our healthcare systems with unnecessary visits to the hospitals or clinics.

We can utilize screen time aiming to harness the positives while looking after our own and others’ wellbeing. So, how do we navigate this difficult time?

There are various tips which can help us to minimize screen time and give rest to eyes / to decrease strain on eyes.

1. Short breaks from screen time.

Monitor total screen time and slowly cut it down as much as possible.

After every 20 minutes of screen time, take a short break. Step outside if possible, or jog around the room (or in place) for a few minutes.

Short breaks can lead to greater focus overall. Stepping away from the TV for five minutes often turns into 10 or 15 minutes. And just like that, you’ve given your eyes and your mind a well-deserved break.

2. Enjoying meals together.

Enjoy meals together with your family and not in front of a TV, computer or cellphone. Meals can be a great time for social interaction. Always turn off the TV, place your phone out of sight and relish every bite you have. Pay close attention to what you eat and check out whether there are any new flavors or textures in your food that you haven’t noticed before.

With the digital devices away from the table, you and your children can talk , discuss, share your views and savor your time together.

3. Encourage your hobby.

The best time to utilize in a very positive way is to explore and bring out the artist in you.

Have you always wanted to learn to play a musical piano or sketch a nature scene? Or juggle a Rubik’s Cube in 10 seconds?

Almost everyone has one or the other hidden talent which can be given an opportunity. For many, isolation can be just the opening they need to get started.

Devote 10 to 15 minutes daily to your hobby may it be reading a book, singing, dancing, trying hands-on new recipes, or watching a tutorial video. Puzzles can be a great way to create something with your kids.

4. Prevent the strain on the eyes by applying the 20-20-20 rule.

Too much time spending on gazing at screens all day might leave your eyes dry, irritating, with blurred vision, redness. After every 20 minutes spent on screen, you should try to look away at something that is 20 feet away from you for a total of 20 seconds.

Try to focus on something that is far away from you. Consider looking out of a window at an object that seems far away, like a tree or a building across the street. It takes about 20 seconds for your eyes to completely relax.

The other good idea is to get up and grab a drink of water to keep yourself hydrated. If your body is hydrated, your eyes will be as well. Setting a timed reminder to pop up can help you take a break every 20 minutes.

5. Maintaining the screen at an appropriate level to reduce pressure on the eyes.

If eye strain is due to an uncorrected refractive error, correction of the error with appropriate lenses as well as the proper use of the lenses will take care of the strain. Placing digital gadgets like desktops, laptops, mobile phones with respect to the eye level, brightness, contrast to reduce glare can help relieve eyestrain.

Make sure your computer screen is about 25 inches, or an arm's length, away from your face. The center of the screen should be about 10-15 degrees below eye level, as too high or low a position can cause neck pain. Too high a position makes the user open their eyes more leading to the evaporation of tears.

The brightness levels have to be set according to the needs of adults or kids compared to the surrounding which helps in avoiding strain on the eyes. Make sure the lighting in the room is bright enough. Customized furniture should be used to avoid neck or body pain and should provide comfortable working.

Keyboards should be accessible to the user such that their hands are straight and should not cause any discomfort.

6. Maintaining a proper diet

Spending long hours before the screen, be it office work or online classes, its obvious to keep on munching on unhealthy, junk foods. Therefore it's very necessary to keep a vigilant eye on the diet that is beneficial for our health. A balanced diet is best created with a variety of proteins, dairy, fruits, and vegetables. You should limit the consumption of unhealthy foods that are processed, contain saturated fats, or are high in sugar.

The best foods that you can have are fish, eggs, nuts like almonds, walnuts, green leafy vegetables like spinach, vitamin-rich foods like carrots, fresh fruits like oranges, kiwis, berries, papayas, apples. The vitamin, found in fresh fruits and vegetables, contributes to healthy blood vessels in your eyes.

A healthy diet is essential for eye health. Maintaining a healthy diet high in antioxidants will prevent the development of serious eye conditions.

These difficult times are likely to ease over a few months, but enhanced screen activity has become the new norm. It is important to adjust one’s lifestyle to safeguard eye and body health.

It’s important to take care of your eyes on a regular basis to maintain eye health. Eating eye-healthy foods is not the only way to protect the eyes, but following simple preventive measures can also help reduce strain on the eyes. Keeping a regular follow up with an ophthalmologist, giving breaks from time to time to reduce strain on eyes, performing simple the eye exercises, meditating, having good sleep can all help in preserving the vision.

Thank You !

Stay Healthy, Stay Safe and Keep Smiling!
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