According to a Nielsen study parsed by CNN, American adults spend nearly 11 hours a day on average staring at a screen, and most of that screen time occurs while they’re at work. And yes, this can cause many problems for employees, their health and wellness, and their overall work performance. Continue reading to learn more.
Side Effects of Too Much Screen Time
Diminished cognitive functioning. Neuroimaging research has shown that too much screen time actually damages the human brain, its gray matter and white matter, and its overall ability to function; it also shrinks in size. Too much screen time affects a person’s ability to plan, prioritize, organize, and complete routine and easy tasks and affects a person’s impulse control, which means he or she might start exhibiting more erratic behavior.
Impaired vision and headaches. When employees stare at computer screens for too long, their vision can easily become blurry, and they can get frequent headaches and itchy eyes. This is due to the blue light that’s typically emitted from screens.
Poor sleep quality. When people stare at a screen for too long, they’re staring directly at a blue light. And the blue light emitted from digital devices suppresses the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, which can keep them from having restful sleep and regular sleep patterns. And irregular sleeping patterns or poor quality of sleep can lead to more irritable behaviors and even insomnia in many cases.
Increased risk of heart disease and obesity. Typically, when employees are staring at computer screens, they’re also sitting down and not being very physically active. And sitting for prolonged periods of time every day can lead to higher rates of obesity and can increase someone’s risk of getting heart disease.
Signs of Severe Screen Addiction
Staring at a screen too often can lead to serious screen addiction. Screen addiction is a serious matter and is very real. Research has shown that a screen or technology addiction actually impacts the same area of the brain as drugs and alcohol. Signs of a severe screen addiction include:
- Severe depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as emerging mental health disorders
- Stressed or fractured relationships with friends and family members
- Eating disorders and sleeping disorders
- Erratic and disorganized behavior
- Growing inability to focus on or complete tasks
What You Can Do to Prevent Screen Addiction in the Workplace
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to combat screen addiction in the workplace. Here are a few options:
- Promote the implementation of distraction-free times when employees can pick a block of time each day where their devices won’t notify them of anything and they won’t be staring at a screen.
- Urge employees to take a real lunch break (perhaps during their designated “distraction-free time”), away from their desks and computers. And during lunch, urge them to leave their smartphones and tablets behind too.
- Encourage employees to use apps that block out distracting sites, as well as apps that notify them when it’s time to take a break from looking at their screen for a few minutes once every hour or so.
- Host device-free meetings. While some meetings may require employees to bring their devices, they don’t all require this, and often, devices aren’t necessary and can even derail meetings. Let your employees know when devices won’t be permitted in certain meetings.
Overall, too much screen time in the workplace is a problem for employees and their health and wellness. Remember the information above, and try to do all you can to combat screen addiction in your own workplace.