For many, including us here at Speedoc, working from home has also meant that we spend almost all of our time in the workday in front of our computers. Some have found themselves working over 50 hours a week since working from home; that translates to over 50 hours before a screen a week. This does not even include screen time off-work. Physical meetings are now replaced by video conferences and watercooler conversations between colleagues are now held online on WhatsApp or intracompany messaging platforms. If limiting screen time was a challenge for parents before, the shift to full home-based learning for students in Singapore has now made this task near impossible.
In a time where physical distancing is key to safeguarding ourselves and those around us, we still have the desire to remain socially and emotionally connected to our loved ones. The best way to overcome the physical barrier has been through text messaging and video and phone calls. Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime and WhatsApp video calls have given us an avenue to see and talk to our friends and extended family members, albeit through a screen.
When we’re not working or chatting with friends, we watch TV, Netflix, YouTube, and more. We even follow online workouts through our computers and mobile phones. All of these activities involve a digital screen of some kind. The amount of time we spend on our phones has skyrocketed – a user in the US even found that his screen time has increased by 185%.
Vision. Looking into a computer or phone screen for extended periods of time can cause blurred vision, strained or dry eyes, and headaches. When you work at a computer, your eyes are constantly moving around the different parts of the screen, focusing and refocusing constantly. Images keep moving and flickering and your eyes have to adjust accordingly. All these put immense strain on the eye muscles. Eye issues that result from computer use can be grouped into a condition called “computer vision syndrome”, which affects 50-90% of people who use a computer.
Health. More time spent on digital devices means less time available for exercise and physical activity. Unhealthy habits like mindless snacking also often accompany increased screen time, increasing your chances of obesity and its related conditions.
Sleep quality. The blue light emitted from a screen suppresses melatonin production and keeps you more awake for longer at night. This delays the time you fall asleep and reduces your overall sleep quality. Engaging in online content right before bedtime also stimulates your brain, making you too alert to fall asleep.
Parents: get involved. It isn’t easy to limit screen time for your children when they can’t go out to play. Educational content on TV or YouTube can be beneficial for cognitive development and can help bridge knowledge gaps. Watch these content with your children so they can ask questions. If you’re too busy to accompany them, check in with them regularly and ask them to explain what they’ve been watching to you. They’ll have to process the content and articulate it to you, helping you determine if the video is truly beneficial.
Reduce non-essential screen time. It’s even harder to limit screen time as adults. One place to start would be during mealtimes. Focus on the food in front of you instead of watching TV or scrolling on your phone. If you’re staying home with family or a partner, this is a good time to reconnect after spending the day working in your respective areas of the house. If you’re alone, take this time as an opportunity to meditate and centre yourself. Besides, distracted eating has been linked to increased obesity rates. When you’re distracted, you tend to eat more, quicker. You might not notice the brain’s signals that you’re full. So, put down that phone and turn off the Netflix! Replace recreational screen time with creative alternatives. Relying on your digital devices for entertainment after work hours might be tempting, but there are equally fun alternatives you can explore. Spend your free time baking, creating art, or picking up a new skill like sewing or knitting. Play some music or a podcast for background noise, and give your eyes a break from the screen.
The best treatment for tired eyes and other issues from too much screen time is to reduce your overall screen time permanently. However, if the discomfort is severe and you would like to seek medical help, Speedoc’s 24/7 on-demand doctors are here for you. With our newly-launched telemedicine services, you can request for a teleconsultation within minutes with a Speedoc doctor. The doctor will prescribe medication, arrange for a house call from a doctor or nurse, or provide a specialist referral according to your condition.
To request for a teleconsultation, download our app from the App Store or Google Play Store. Our on-demand doctors are also available for booking through our app, online booking system, or our hotline at +65 8180 8948.