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Stuck Inside? Why Adults Should Avoid Excess Screen Time

Whether we're ready for it or not, winter is here! That means more time stuck indoors on those cold, snowy nights. For many people, this is when we watch Netflix, play video games or spend hours scrolling through Facebook. Technology makes our lives more convenient and far more entertaining but what is it doing to our health?

Parents often warn their children about excessive screen time but in reality adults face just as many, if not more repercussions from hours of technology. Time spent on smartphones, tablets, computers, video games, and TV can be harmful to several elements of our overall health including our vision, sleep, and weight.

Sleep: Tossing and turning during the night? It may be because you aren't shutting your devices off early enough. Screen time can drastically affect your sleep due to being overstimulated. The light or noise from your devices confuses your brain, making it think it isn't time to go to sleep. This means your body isn't releasing the melatonin needed to regulate your sleep cycles. Turning off your devices an hour or two before bed will help you sleep more soundly through the night.

Weight: How can watching TV lead to obesity? Sedentary lifestyles are dangerous for both children and adults because of the lack of overall movement. Hours sitting on the couch is time that could be spent playing a game with your kids or walking the dog. Watching TV also leads to mindless snacking because of convenience and lack of alternative activities. Swap screen time for active hobbies to keep your ticker, ticking!

Vision: With technologies role in today's work force it is often impossible to avoid hours of screen exposure. When we are reading from our computer screens we blink more frequently, causing our eyes to dry out from lack of natural tears. This problem becomes even more complicated when we work from our phones. This is because we tend to hold phones closer to our faces than printed materials. This forces our eyes to work harder to focus, causing fatigue from unnecessary straining. These issues can also affect our necks and backs due to long periods of poor posture.

Although using technology at work is unavoidable, you should resist reading from your phone at home as often as possible. In addition, be sure to take "screen breaks" at work to let your eyes recover.

Screen Time Tips:

Don't put your phone near your bed at night. It becomes too tempting to grab it while you're trying to fall asleep or first thing in the morning. Place your phone on a dresser across the room or leave it in another room of your house. Out of sight, out of mind!
There are ways to hear a good story without turning on your TV. Reading a book may seem old school but it's a great, relaxing source of entertainment. Find a series that catches your attention so you will have multiple books to read throughout winter.

Curfews aren't just for your kids. Setting a specific time each night to shut-off your TV, computer or phone will help you monitor how much screen time you've had. It is also helpful to set certain nights of the week that you plan to watch television. If your favorite show is on Tuesday night, make that your night to indulge!