Screen time can be both harmful and helpful

People have never spent so much time in front of screens as they do now.

For years there have been warnings about the detrimental effects of having too much screen time, but now having a certain amount of screen time is required by many professions. Some professionals are required to have a work computer and a work phone alongside their personal computers and personal phones. And of course, a great way to relax after a long day of looking at screens is to sit down and watch a movie on Netflix.

Many studies have shown that excessive screen time negatively impacts youth, especially in areas of attention, communication, and memorization. One such study by the American National Institute of Health will follow 11,000 youths for a decade to find out exactly how screen time effects developing brains. There is evidence to show that excessive use does impact brain development, but in an article published by CBS News, Dr. Gaya Dowling of the NIH study said they aren’t sure if these changes are a bad thing.

Most studies are focused on youth, which could lead to a false perception that adults are immune to the negative effects of screen time. Excessive screen time has been linked to depression, disrupted sleep cycles, vision issues in the form of eye strain, blurred vision, and headaches. It can also contribute to increased neck and back pain for people suffering from chronic pain issues.

It is important to note that not all screen time is bad. According to a study from the University of Michigan, it’s more important to note how screens are used rather than how long they are used. They note passive screen time as being detrimental, especially to youth, whereas active screen time is shown to be beneficial. Passive screen time, for example, is sitting watching TV or playing simple games that require little actual effort. Active screen time involves physical activities or engaging and challenging content. Active screen time has been show to have a positive impact on coordination, reaction time, and motor skill development.

At the end of the day, screens are not going anywhere. They will become more integrated with society as time goes on. Like it or not, there’s no getting away from them. It seems the best thing to do when it comes to screen time is to take an active approach.

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