These days digital exposure is almost synonymous with life itself, from a 5-year-old to a 50-year-old technological dependence has increased, leading to people being glued to their screens for hours. Though the term ‘digital fatigue’ existed before the pandemic, it has been brought to light more prominently over the last 2 years. It is a state of exhaustion and disengagement that occurs among people who use numerous digital tools and apps concurrently. The umbrella term encompasses both the physical and mental effects of excessive screen time.
According to research, most adults spend around 11 hours a day looking at a screen. So, what has changed from the invention of technology, to now? Originally, technology was used less for work and more for entertainment, specifically by young adults or families after a long day at work or school as a way to switch off. It is not possible or more honestly not desired to change this way. Now, we see technology everywhere, whether it be in a job or studies or for relaxation, if it has a name, it has something to do with the phone.
Early data from Landmark National Institute of Health or the NIH, a study that began in 2018, indicates that children who spend more than two hours a day of screen time experienced thinning of the brain's cortex, the area of the brain related to critical thinking and reasoning. This statistic is revealing. The consequences of spending this much time looking at a screen can be very damaging.
People report an array of symptoms when staring at a screen too long, especially problems with their eyes; dry, watery or sore eyes and also myopia or hypermetropia. This occurs because people blink less when looking at a screen and the blue light emitted from these devices can be very harmful. After hours of working on the desk, even young people are getting joint pain and spinal cord issues. One common issue people have with their neck when using their phone is called 'text neck' as most people develop it as a result of constantly being on their phone.
These issues can cause a low mood and can lead to depression. Now more than ever, it is difficult to disconnect from the world, with people using technology in nearly every part of live. This means, alternatives are needed so digital fatigue does not happen. The first step is to analyse yourself and see whether you are suffering from any digital fatigue symptoms, if you are then it is high time that you reduce your screen time and take care of your health as the aphorism goes, 'A stitch in time saves nine.'
There are also some simple but effective methods to combat digital fatigue
- The first one is switching to offline entertainment methods, instead of watching TV before you sleep, reading a book or drawing something, maybe journaling your thoughts or any other hobby. Since you can't stop working on the phone, stop chilling on it.
- Text only when necessary, in the last few years we have had a strange affinity to texting which was not that harmful then but now it has turned into an addiction. Try calling or writing letters to your friends or colleagues to convey information, it would also be more personal and simultaneously would give time for your eyes to relax.
- Ditch the camera, when it's not necessary. The pressure of constantly looking presentable also stresses out the mind, more than you think it does. Attend meetings while walking on the terrace or the garden.
- The 20-20-20 rule works wonders. Most people know the rule but they seldom practice it, even after knowing that it is very effective. So, after every 20 minutes look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. The easiest way is to get up from your chair and to the window and look at the clear sky.
- The last and most important point is to stay positive, because a healthy balance of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin is vital for brain health and that is what keeps us going. It is important to realise if it's too much for us to give ourselves a much-needed break.
Digital fatigue is not the latest fad or a hoax, it is very real. Most times it is necessary to work on the screen but when it's not, don't tire yourself on it rather enjoy your time. So do not take it lightly, keep yourself connected to the real world, not the virtual one.
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