Television, video games and Internet browsing are how many adults and children pass their free time. This is true in normal times, but surely even more so during the coronavirus lockdown! But what does screen time do for our health, and is too much screen time a hazard to your health? Plenty, and it’s not good, according to the research.
We should concerned about the risks associated with screen time. Both adults and children alike must try to limit TV, video games and computer use for the well-being. Read on to learn more about the latest research on the hazards of excessive screen time.
One study concludes that people who watch an average of six hours of TV daily have a life expectancy of nearly five years less than those who watch no TV. This may seem an extreme example, but consider another shocking statistic: On average, for adults over age 25, each hour of the television time takes 21.8 minutes off life expectancy (Br J Sports Med 2011:Epub)!
Research also associates screen time with higher mortality from all causes (Circulation 2010;121:384-91), which certainly shows that screen time is a hazard to your health!
The idea that watching too much TV makes you fat and unhealthy – the classic “couch potato” image – is well-grounded in science. In a large investigation of 11,658 children ages 5-19 researchers collected information on height, weight and time spent watching television after school.
They found that for every 30 minutes of average daily viewing, a child is 21 percent more likely to be obese (Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2011;8:66).
In addition to physical inactivity, food advertisements often get the blame for childhood obesity. Fast food commercials are twice as common and candy commercials three times as common during children’s programs compared with adult program’s (Health Promot Int 2005;20:105-12).
And, teenagers surveyed reported more consumption of sugar-laden beverages and foods, if they watched more than two hours of TV daily (Public Health Nutr 2011;14:1563-9).
Commercials are not the only reason screen time is associated with poor eating habits. Distractions while eating seem to dull the sensory experience of eating, resulting in less satisfaction and more likelihood of overeating later to compensate.
College students who ate lunch while watching television were less able to recall what they ate and consumed more snack food later compared with students who ate identical lunches without the TV on (Appetite 2009;52:39-13).
The obesity linked with excessive screen time brings myriad health risks. A paper appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association connects watching over two hours of TV daily to increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, blaming both unhealthy food choices and replacement of physical activity with television (JAMA 20212;305:2448-55).
According to an earlier study, every two hours of daily TV viewing increases obesity risk by 23 percent and diabetes risk by 14 percent (JAMA 2003;289:1785-9).
Cardiovascular risk even shows up in preteens when it comes to screen time. An investigation of seventh graders in Australia earlier this year found significant increases in blood pressure for every hour spent in from of the TV or computer (J Hum Hypertens 2011;Epub).
Is screen time a hazard to your health when looking affects on sleep? Certainly too much screen time can harm well-being for adults and kids alike. Doctors warn patients that exposure to the bright light radiating from a TV or computer screen close to bedtime inhibits the body’s melatonin production, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
Getting engrossed in a TV show, video game or Internet chat often delays bedtime and stimulates the brain, further delaying sleep (Adolesc Med State Art Rev 2010;21:418-29, Sleep Med 2010;11:735-42).
Both evening and daytime screen time can adversely affect nigh-time sleep for children. An analysis of 3 to 5 year olds shows that sleep problems were more likely with exposure to violent content during the day and any screen time after 7.00 pm (Paediatrics 2011;128:29-35).
Like most our our daily habits our use of technology is deeply engrained for many. So, what is the best way way to gradually change our behaviour? For our children we do need to set rules. I know from a personal point of view that it is often too easy to let the kids watch TV or play on their consoles because then they are out of my hair. However, we try to balance this with other activities, especially during holidays or lockdown!
For the adults this may prove more of a challenge if we are working from home alongside the children. Many of us are having to work from home and are working on laptop computers. Reducing screen time, when logged in for work, may be impossible. What then becomes essential is to break your day up with exercise, microbreaks and stretches.
Being sedentary is exactly the problem with screen use. You now know the answer to this question. Is too much screen time a hazard to your health?
I know that your top priority is to be pain free and feeling great! If you do have pain and stiffness it is vital to get moving, albeit gently at first. It is very difficult to start improving your overall health and wellbeing if you are struggling with ongoing pain. I recommend chiropractic or osteopathic care, NOT only to relieve your pain, but to ensure that your spinal function is restored as much as possible.
17 Church Road, Caversham, Reading, Berkshire RG4 7AA
Reflex Spinal Health are a passionate, dynamic spinal health team. We are committed to help as many in our community of Reading, Berkshire and South Oxfordshire to enjoy the vitality of great health, to reach their health goals and feel truly alive! Our chiropractors and osteopaths offer the highest standards of care in a superb environment.