Happy New Year! Here’s cheers to a healthy 2018 ahead for you all!
If you’re worried about your – and your kids’- device use getting out of control this year, especially with many kids still on holidays, be sure to read on!
We’ve all no doubt been enjoying spending a little more time unwinding on our devices- whether it’s to read, shop, play games, catchup on social media…
But with so many negative health implications, it’s a good idea to be clued up on a few key points around healthy smartphone and tablet use… so you can have a think about whether you might want to set some parameters around it for you and your family.
There’s lots of evidence out now that’s proven a few negative consequences of device use on our bodies- Poor posture, altered hormone release from blue light emission and eye strain.
Before we dive into my tips, lets take a look at the problems excessive device use causes…
Poor Posture and strain on the body
We’re probably all too familiar with the posture we adopt, or see others adopting, when using a smartphone or tablet.
It’s more often than not the complete slump as our heavy head falls forward and our shoulders and back slouch closer to the screen, and as we get totally wrapped up in what we’re doing. What a nightmare for our muscles and joints!
That’s what’s called ‘Tech Neck’!
The weight of our head when it falls just 10degrees forward is doubled, and then tripled by the time our head is down by 30 degrees… that’s roughly ten-fifteen kilos hanging off our poor neck, shoulders and upper back! And because we’re usually sitting our muscles aren’t exactly gunning to work hard to support us, to it’s a big heavy load on all our muscles and joints, often for a long time!
This causes all sorts of unnecessary aches and pains, sprains and strains on our body!
Neck and shoulder pain and stiffness is the most typical complaint, but injuries like ‘texting thumb’ are also common.
Altered Hormone release from Blue Light Emission
Blue light emission in large doses is dangerous for our mental health and sleep patterns
Device use stimulates the release of dopamine (the ‘happy hormone’) and areas of the brain in a way that is most similar to Cocaine use. Hence many researchers have coined the term ‘Digital Cocaine’ with respect to the addictive nature of smartphone and tablet use.
Blue light also stops the release of our sleep hormone, melatonin, so sleep can be disturbed. Melatonin is important in for regulating sleep cycles. Studies have shown that blue light emitted by screens (TV, computer, phone etc.) alters melatonin levels making it more difficult to fall asleep with excessive device use, especially in the hour before bed.
Addiction to any type of screen is pretty easily identified in young children… many parents of young kids can tell you about the ‘tantrum’ that results from trying to prise a device out your toddler’s hands!
Computer use can cause a whole range of eye problems, including pain and strain.
It effects a huge percentage of people who look at computer screens daily, including adults and kids. This is made worse if lighting, desk setup and posture are not ideal.
Here’s my 4 Top tips to prevent problems associated with device use…
- If you need to change your own habits, give yourself a pep talk! Also, chat with your family about what sort of rules you might set around everyone’s device use to encourage healthy habits that suit you as a family… then lead by example!
- Bring your device closer to your face. Whether that means propping a cushion under your arms while sitting on the couch, or bending your elbows and locking them into your sides so your device is up higher… anything that means you’re not looking down as much! Think of having a hinge between your ears, or at eye level, and just look down instead of dropping your head down to save your neck and shoulders
- Change your blue light settings at night-time to filter blue light emission. Use ‘Nightshift Mode’ for IOS devices or install the ‘Twilight’ app for android devices to filter out the nasty blue light!
- Take regular breaks for your posture and your eyes. Use a timer, Instal an app (like rabbit habit reminders or ) or use your smartwatch to remind you to take regular posture breaks like you would sitting at a desk. Make sure you look up and away from the screen to focus farther away every half hour.
Your challenge this week, and over the holiday period, is to be mindful of your posture and your device habits so you can transition into the new year in better health!
If you want more advice on improving your posture in 2018- including knowing the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT IMPROVES YOUR POSTURE AND LESSENS STIFFNESS AND SORENESS AT YOUR DESK, fill out your details below to receive my FREE VIDEO