Do you have physical effects from screen overuse?

Tech Talk Tuesday: #59: Are there physical effects of screen time?

People often ask me about the medical risks that all this screen time is having on our kids—such as the development of eyesight problems or tendonitis. I get emails from ophthalmologists who are convinced that nearsightedness is increasing, but so far there are no long-term studies to say anything definitively. One thing studies do show is that plenty of time outside is needed to prevent nearsightedness.

People who spend long hours with computers, video game controllers, cellphones and the like are at higher risk of developing musculoskeletal pains which can develop in the neck, shoulders, thumbs, wrists, elbows and lower back. In a study of college students with very high cell phone use (vs. those with low usage), ultrasounds found that the group with high usage had enlarged median nerves and this was associated with causing more thumb pain. 

There is no denying that screen time is coming into classrooms at a faster and faster rate and this has many people, including myself, concerned about how this will affect our kids' physical health—both in the short and long term. So what can we do to prevent strain and pain from tech use? It is one thing to know information and quite another to change behavior. I tell my medical students that the hardest (and most rewarding) thing you will do is to help people to make lasting behavior changes. 

For this TTT let’s talk about physical health and screen time. Also, let's talk about what health information we have received in the past that has or has not changed our behaviors.

  • What health information have you learned in life that affects your choices?
  • Have you heard of any health risks of excessive screen time?
  • Have you noticed any health-related symptoms from texting or screens?