Today's world is filled with technology. Between computers, televisions, and smartphones, screens are everywhere! Even though technology makes many tasks simpler and quicker, too much screen time has a negative impact on your health.
Why worry about screen time?
Simply put, excess screen time (more than two hours a day outside of work) is bad for your health. Here are some reasons why:
- Screen time is correlated with lower levels of activity and an increased risk of obesity, which can lead to other health problems like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Being overweight can also cause soreness and fatigue.
- Screen time right before bed can make it harder to fall asleep and get a good night’s rest, which can increase anxiety the next day.
- Excess screen time can contribute to depression, due to both less physical activity and fewer face-to-face social interactions.
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What to do Instead
If you spend more than a few hours at a time in front of a screen, especially if you primarily work at a computer, you could benefit from cutting down your screen time and taking frequent breaks.
Rather than browsing the internet or playing video games during your break times, take the opportunity to get up and move around. There are many 10 to 15 minute workouts you can do without going to the gym. For example, consider taking a short walk, going on a bike ride or doing some yoga.
These are all great ways to calm your body, improve your mood, and reduce stress — you'll probably feel better and more refreshed than if you stayed sitting. You can also make your work-day healthier by using a standing desk. Some companies will help you get one if you have a doctor's note.
A lot of people spend time on the computer to play games, go on Facebook, or just to fill the time before going to sleep. To cut down on screen time, try meeting up with friends in-person or talking to them on the phone while taking a walk. These types of interactions are usually more fulfilling anyway.
If you're bored before bedtime, instead of surfing the internet you can read a book, listen to music, or get everything ready for the next day so you have more time in the morning. You will probably sleep better as a result.
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- Jen Hawkins, public health education intern
- Nicole Aguirre, College Writer (Stanford ’12)
Reviewed by: Melissa Raby, R.N.
Last Reviewed: July 20, 2013
For More Information:
See our Teens and Depression article.
Below are links PAMF accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
Tips to Reduce Screen Time, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
iKeepSafe.org, Official website.
Screen Time and Children, Medline Plus.
Greater Screen Time and Obesity, University of Pennsylvania.
Screen Time: How much is healthy?, Allina Health.