The increased use of screens is among one of the biggest effects of recent technological advances because we spend less and less time away from devices that keep us always connected. Children and young people are the most welcoming, although adults and seniors are also increasingly involved in the digital world.
We all already know the positive aspects of social media and screens. The use of screens allows us to be connected with people who live far away, they allow us to seek knowledge and even provide care through telemedicine, but from the moment we use the cell phone as an extension of our body and prioritize the use of electronic devices into the detriment of quality time with friends and family, we can be seriously affected by many mental, social and health problems.
The risks are variable and depend on several factors such as age group. But the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association (APA) point out as worrying factors for children and teenagers: decrease in school performance, irritability, delay in speech acquisition, postural problems, exposure to bullying and/or cyberbullying, sedentary lifestyle and increased risk of obesity and eating disorders, image disorders, exposure to risky behaviors with self-injury and increased visual and auditory problems.
In relation to adolescence, the use of screens can impoverish social relationships, cause problems in the regulation of emotions, generate sleep disturbances, damage school performance, and exposure to violence and sexual content. And adults anxiety, depression, increased of OCD and ADHD symptoms, alcohol and drugs consumptions, acquired esotropia, increased ocular symptoms like myopia migraine onset, duration and frequency, poorer sleep quality and higher perceived stress, powered physical activity, lower muscle mass and higher fat mass, chronic neck pain patients with overuse of smartphones had higher Cervical Disc Degeneration.
According to the American Society of Pediatrics, the ideal exposure time varies according to the age group, and from 0 to 2 years, the use of screens, even passively, is totally discouraged. For other ages, follow:
• 2 years to 5 years: 1 hour a day;
• 6 years to 10 years: between 1 hour and 2 hours per day;
• 11 years to adults: between 2 hours and 3 hours per day.
Also, screens should not be used during meals and should be reserved at least 2 hours before bedtime. Parental supervision of content, whether viewed or shared on social media, is also recommended.
To avoid the harmful effects of excessive exposure to screens that can affect individuals mentally and physically, strategies must be adopted. The involvement of children and adolescents is sometimes linked to the family routine, therefore, for the dynamic to work more effectively, the whole family can get involved in activities that do not use screens. Certain attitudes like turning off your phone at certain times of the day, such as when you’re driving, in a meeting, at the gym, having dinner, spending time with offline friends, or playing with your kids can make a bigger difference in your life. The most important thing is to understand that a cell phone is just a tool and not an integral part of the human body.