Screen Time Myths and the Truth Behind Them | San Antonio LASIK
6 Myths About Screen Time and Its Effects
We’re living in an era where our work and play world is increasingly dominated by digital devices, leading to this dramatic uptick in daily screen time. To be exact, the average American spends 7 hours and 4 minutes in front of screens each day.
And no, it isn’t just the adults soaking up all those pixels. Whether for virtual learning, gaming, socializing, or streaming the latest animated show, kids have become fellow passengers in this digital journey. Parents and experts alike have debated the issue, analyzing how digital devices may impact the well-being of the future through the youngest generations. Amid the sea of opinions, however, we must dilute the facts from any myths that may be surrounding the issue.
1. All Screen Time Is Bad
Although some may pronounce all screens to be bad, that’s not necessarily true especially when you consider all the benefits of digital solutions. For example:
- In schools, tablets and computers are tools to promote interactive learning and aid student engagement.
- Screens are critical to many livelihoods — with work-from-home arrangements and digital offices becoming the norm.
- In healthcare, the modern LASIK Eye Surgery employs advanced digital technology to correct vision. A surgeon uses a laser controlled by a computer and measurements created by your surgeon to reshape the cornea, thereby improving the patient’s eyesight.
Despite these benefits, there are some negative effects that are tied to screen time. However, these effects are often tied to excessive or inappropriate screen use, not the inherent nature of screen time itself.
2. The Health Risks of Excessive Screen Time are Minimal
If consumed excessively, screen time can cause the following health concerns:
- Eye strain and discomfort: Spending long hours glued to a screen can lead to what is known as digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome. Before treatment, you may experience symptoms such as dryness, blurriness, headaches, and overall discomfort.
- Optical migraines and increased risk of seizures: Rapid, flashy images on screens can trigger optical migraines and, in rare cases, even seizures.
- Physical health concerns: Screen time often equates to sedentary time, which can contribute to obesity, cardiovascular disorder, and other related problems.
After hearing of these risks, some people may be tempted to cut all digital screens out of their lives cold turkey. But that may not be sustainable, attainable, or even healthy considering all of the benefits mentioned earlier. Instead, the better response would be to increase the mindfulness of your screen time habits, especially regarding eye health. It is important to consider regular eye check-ups.
If you are interested in corrective measures, contact a trusted LASIK surgeon. You may be able to lessen the strain on your eyes and avoid any long-term health risks. Plus, after LASIK Eye Surgery, you can usually resume your normal activities, such as playing video games, within 24 hours.
3. A Lot of Screen Time Won’t Impact Your Sleep
Although catching up on the latest news on Twitter or endlessly scrolling through videos on your phone right before you fall asleep may be normalized, this behavior can actually be harmful. A recent review of various studies that explored the connection between young people’s screen use and sleep found that 90% of these studies discovered a link between screen time and later bedtimes or less overall sleep. This connection boils down to the blue light emitted by screens.
This blue light can interfere with our body’s circadian rhythm. The blue light from screens resembles daylight and can trick our brains into thinking it’s daytime. This can inhibit the production of melatonin, leading to difficulty falling asleep, fragmented sleep, or even insomnia.
From there, interrupted sleep may interfere with other bodily processes. After all, restful sleep is essential to our overall health and wellness as it’s a restorative process for our bodies and minds, playing a crucial role in memory consolidation, emotional regulation, and physical recovery.
4. Screen Time Is Addicting for Children
There’s been a growing concern about children’s screen time and its potential to become addictive. According to Common Sense Media, 50% of teens feel addicted to mobile devices, and 59% of their parents agree. However, addiction doesn’t occur the moment a child uses a tablet. Dependent on the amount of screen time and other factors, addiction can develop over time.
Additionally, not all screen time is detrimental or addictive. For instance, it can be an invaluable tool in education, helping children to better understand class lessons or explore topics of interest dynamically and engagingly. But, like all tools, the way we use it matters.
The difference between ‘fun’ screen time and ‘addictive’ screen time lies in how it impacts other facets of a child’s life. Here are some signs of potential screen addiction to look out for:
- If screen time starts to interfere with a child’s schoolwork, physical activity, or face-to-face social interactions;
- If a child loses interest in activities they once enjoyed because they’d rather be on a screen, it could indicate a problem;
- If a child becomes irritable, anxious, or upset when they can’t access a screen;
- If a child struggles to cut back on screen time, despite repeated efforts;
If you’re concerned about potential screen addiction, here are a few tips to help prevent this issue:
- Establish screen-free zones and times.
- Encourage physical activity and hobbies.
- Create a balanced screen time plan.
- Model healthy screen habits.
It’s not about demonizing screens but teaching kids to use them responsibly.
5. Screen Time Limits are Just For Kids
Screen time limits — mainly those you can access on your digital devices’ operative settings — are often seen as a tool for parents to control the amount of time their children spend in front of screens, usually to encourage other activities. But screen time limits can be for anyone — regardless of age or the purpose.
With digital workplaces and increasingly tech-based activities, adults can spend as much, if not more, time in front of screens as kids do. So, here are a few considerations for adults looking to manage their screen time better:
- Consider setting personal limits on non-work screen time each day. Use this freed-up time for other activities.
- If your job requires a lot of screen time, take regular short breaks. The 20-20-20 rule is an effective guideline.
- Screen filters or settings that reduce blue light emissions can help mitigate some of the eye strain.
- Try to keep screens out of your bedroom. This can help improve sleep quality and create a peaceful environment for relaxation.
For those whose work involves intensive screen use, protecting your eyes is essential. One innovative solution is using light-adjustable lenses. These lenses can be adjusted post-implantation using light treatment to optimize vision.
6. Screen Time Hinders the Development of Children
There’s a pervasive myth that screen time, particularly involving video games and social media, hinders the development of children.
While certain games may play a role in desensitizing children, there’s no definitive proof that such games necessarily lead to adverse behaviors. However, kids still need to interact with digital devices wisely and understand the nuances of the content they consume. Here are a few strategies parents can implement to help kids use their screens responsibly:
- Teach your children digital literacy skills.
- Talk with your kids about their video games or online videos.
- Encourage your children to think critically about the media they consume.
With mindful moderation, screen time can be a positive experience for children and adults alike.
Be sure to talk to one of our doctors about not only the benefits of LASIK, but also any risks of LASIK that may pertain to your individual needs and circumstances.