There’s no denying that technology can be a lifesaver. It connects you to loved ones, helps you navigate unfamiliar territories, and provides unlimited knowledge at your fingertips. Yes, there is no denying that technology can be a beautiful thing.
While long-term effects of growing up with technology are unknown, there are some common health problems that have been associated with the overuse of technology. Neck and back pain, eyestrain, and frequent headaches can all be directly linked to your computer and smartphone use.
The first step towards avoiding these ailments is simple: education. Technology is involved in the way we work, socialize, learn, and play. The following three ailments associated with technology use can be combated with a little knowledge around prevention and a bit of common sense.
One of the most common physical ailments associated with technology is tech neck. It’s caused by excess strain placed on the neck while looking downward at a smartphone. New York Spine Surgeon, Kenneth Hansraj, conducted a study that found an extra 60 pounds of pressure is exerted on a neck that is at a 60-degree angle looking down at a phone. The more you bend to look at your phone, the more pressure is put on your neck.
Over time, poor posture while using digital devices can cause significant wear and tear on the body, the most severe of which could require corrective surgery. The best way to avoid tech neck is to be mindful of the position of your head when using your smartphone and computer. Ensure your head is looking straightforward instead of downward to avoid added pressure on your neck and back.
Also known as “computer vision syndrome”, digital eyestrain is becoming a frequent problem for technology users. Symptoms include: dry, red, irritated eyes, blurred vision, fatigue, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and problems focusing. If these symptoms sound familiar it’s likely that you’re among the 70 percent of American adults that suffer from digital eyestrain.
Digital eyestrain has started to affect children as well, as they are being exposed to technology at an increasingly younger age. The damage stems from the large amounts of time spent in front of the high-energy light of computer screens. While some optometrists have begun prescribing “computer eyeglasses” that block the harmful blue light of the computer, using eye drops can help reduce the symptoms.
Frequent headaches could be the result of the computer screen. Reading dark print on a light screen is hard on the eyes. The stress can cause muscles near the temple to spasm, which can result in a painful stress headache. Lowering computer screen contrast could provide relief since the high contrast is often to blame.
However, the distance between your eyes and the screen could also be the problem. The ideal place at which eyes can comfortably rest is called the “resting point of accommodation.” Unfortunately, the distance between a computer screen and your eyes doesn’t fall into this comfort zone. Since the screen isn’t at the resting point of accommodation, the brain has to constantly tell the eyes to refocus on the screen in front of them, rather than the space beyond. This constantly adjusting and readjusting of the eyes can trigger headaches and eyestrain.
While outlawing computer use altogether is unlikely, symptoms associated with overuse of technology can be prevented. Neck pain, eyestrain, and headaches can all be eliminated or reduced by taking 10 or 15-minute breaks for every 45 minutes of computer use. This time allows eyes, neck, back, and brain to relax and reboot before they’re inevitably put back to work.
Kali Muir is an ambitious freelance writer with a BA in Communications. She was born in Canada, but has since lived in Norway, Denmark, and England. Her work experience is as diverse as her past addresses, including roles in technical communication, corporate communication, marketing, and article writing. She has experience working in varied business sectors: Oil & Gas, Engineering & Technology, Clothing & Equipment Retail, and Creative Writing. Follow Kali’s professional and personal journey at www.kalimuir.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.