When you surf the web or do some work on your computer, a lot goes through your mind. But the last thing you probably ask yourself is: how is this affecting my health? It’s actually an important question to answer because of the amount of time that people dedicate to their computers on a daily basis.
According to the latest U.S. Census from 2011, household computer and Internet use household has changed greatly in recent years– 75.6 percent of households reported having a computer, compared with 61.8 percent in 2003, a far cry from 8.2 percent in 1984. A recent study found that adults spend an average 142 minutes a day in front of computer screens. But if you have a desk job that involves using a CPU, that time could be hours longer.
Since people use their workstations so frequently, it’s essential to look at how they can affect your general health. Whether you own a desktop, a laptop, or a tablet, the technology is an evolving part of our culture that will always be around. So we have to embrace it while understanding any potential risks involved. Here are four health concerns associated with the use of computers.
1. Vision Problems
With so many hours spent in front of a computer, staring at a screen can be a big stain on a person’s eyes. It’s known that viewing things at close range forces them to work harder, causing blurred vision, eye fatigue, and headaches. So, keeping a well-lit room is essential to at least get rid of some of the physical effects. Experts say that while there’s no evidence of permanent damage from working on a CPU or watching TV in darker rooms, it’s a hefty visual workload because it fatigues muscles much faster.
One result is your eyes have to constantly adapt to light changes, which forces pupils to dilate repeatedly. But being in a place with too much light can also be overwhelming for eyesight. As a way to help correct these issues, it’s recommended to lower the contrast and brightness on the monitor, sit at a reasonable distance away from the screen, and manage the amount of time you use a computer while taking breaks.
2. Back Pain
One of the biggest health issues facing computer users involves back and neck problems due to bad posture and positioning. After sitting for hours on end at a desk, you may find yourself dealing with some aches and pains. This discomfort is all too common in people of various ages who have jobs that require using a keyboard. It turns out that a combination of good posture and sufficient exercise is essential when you sit down for so much time. Low back pain is a very common phenomenon in computer users. A study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine says that more than 80 percent people using computers for more than 4 hours complain of back pain. One of the recommendations for addressing these issues is to check your chair and make sure that it has proper back support. Also, the height of your seat in relation to where a computer is positioned on a desk is important. But some doctors say a combination of exercises and good posture techniques as ways to avoid problems.
3. Sleep Disorders
If you’ve been having problems falling asleep lately, you may want to think about your CPU habits. Research shows that more than 90 percent of Americans regularly use a computer or some kind of electronic device within an hour before going to bed. These things are known to disrupt your ability to fall asleep because they stimulate brain activity. Moreover, some researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute find that night use of some devices with artificial light could mess with your melatonin levels, which promote sleep. The recommendation is not to stay in bed late at night doing your work activities and to stick with things that don’t stimulate your brain too much.
Like many things, a computer too can be a source of stress. Nowadays, they are everywhere. Communication is by computer — so are work and our personal lives. Since we spend so much time on these machines, they directly affect our behaviors. Whether it involves unrealistic expectations that workstations should always function properly, an argument with someone via email or chat, or the failure to anticipate problems, dealing with the stress of your CPU is no different than facing any other type of anxiety.
According to one particular study, computers can even contribute to relationship issues. But obviously, the more you understand stress and focus upon the underlying causes, the better you can handle it. This is no laughing matter because it can bleed into other social areas. But the most important effect of stress on your daily life deals with its connection to various health problems. So be mindful about how to manage it, identify the source, and control it in the best way possible.