Technology is all around me. When I wake up, I check my phone to see if I have any new texts, emails or notifications. After reading and, if necessary, replying to these messages, I open a newspaper app to read the news. When I am ready to go to school, I take my headphones with me so that I can listen to the music on my smartphone on the way. At school, I use my laptop for many different purposes. When I do not use my laptop, I am staring at a screen on which the teacher projects his digital class materials. Every now and then, I get interrupted by an incoming message on my smartphone. Coming home from school, I like to relax by watching a couple of episodes of a series. After this break, I need to work on school assignments, on my laptop. When I am done with my assignments, I can finally close my laptop and make dinner. And after dinner… it is time for a movie night!
This description of my average day might be similar to yours. Maybe you use a tablet instead of a laptop, or maybe you play video games to relax after school or work. Surveys show that 68% of U.S. adults owns a smartphone, 73% owns a laptop, and 45% owns a tablet. In 2015, the average time spent on mobile phones a day was 2 hours and 54 minutes, computers were used for an average of 2 hours and 11 minutes a day, and the U.S. adults watched TV for 4 hours and 11 minutes on average a day. In total, on average, American adults spend around 11 hours of their day on digital media, including listening to radio and watching TV.
How bad is all this exposure to digital technology for us? Is there a point at which our digital technology use is dangerous for our health? This is what you should know:
1. One hour of watching TV shortens your life by 22 minutes
Researches compared a survey which asked 11,247 Australians about the time they spend on watching to Australian mortality figures. With the help of the outcomes of this comparison, the researchers were able to create a model which compared the life expectancy for adults who do not watch TV, and for adults who do. It turned out that watching TV could be as dangerous as obesity or smoking. For every hour you watch TV, you shorten your life with 21.8 minutes. Watching TV can be addicting, which is not only bad for your life expectancy, but also has an influence on your daily life. TV shows can give you false information and watching too much TV can interfere with critical thinking. Furthermore, watching too much TV causes you to lack movement, which can cause obesity, heart diseases and diabetes. Try to watch less than 2 hours of TV a day to limit these effects.
2. Your music should not be louder than the beep of a microwave
You might know that sounds are measured in decibels. Zero decibels are almost equal to complete silence and it is the weakest sound that we are capable of hearing. During a normal conversation, we produce around 60 decibels. When listening to music through headphones or earphones for a longer period of time, scientists recommend to keep your volume less than 85 decibels, which is similar to the sound of the beep of your microwave. Exposure to a high number of decibels can be dangerous to your hearing capabilities. You should limit your listening time to 15 minutes when listening to 100 decibels, and repeatedly hearing noises of 110 decibels for longer than 1 minute can lead to permanent hearing loss. Every increase of 10 decibels means that the sound is 10 times more intense. Next time you listen to music off your computer or smartphone through earphones or headphones, try to determine a responsible volume.
3. Screen time: the 20-20-20 rule
Looking at screens for too long can strain your eyes, especially when you do not take a break. You blink less when looking at a screen for a longer period of time, which leads to dehydration of the eye. This can cause headaches, dry or itchy eyes, a blurred vision, concentration problems and other eye discomforts. If you have problems with your eyes already, staring at a screen can also make your current eye condition worse. Therefore, look up from your screen every 20 minutes and look at an object at least 20 feet away from you. Gaze at it for at least 20 seconds. It will help you fight tiredness, since it relaxes the focusing muscle inside your eye.
Even though technology offers us great opportunities, too much exposure to certain aspects of it can be dangerous to your health. Try to get familiar with the boundaries and interact with digital technology in a responsible and healthy way.
Were these advices useful to you? Do you have any other tips when it comes to health and technology? Let us know in the comments!