When it comes to technology, especially the innovative ones, we are always concerned about how it will affect children. Being concerned about kids makes sense as their brains are still developing, and high usage of technology such as smartphones and desktops can negatively impact their health.
This is something I also can relate personally. Having a 14-year-old daughter who now spends more than 10 hours a day in front of the screens whilst doing remote schooling amid the pandemic, I really worry about screen-life balance for our children and future generations.
However, we tend to forget how technology, especially higher screen time usage, can negatively affect adults' mental and physical health too. Adults' brains are more adaptable due to a phenomenon called neuroplasticity. It means that every time we learn a new task, we are changing our brain by expanding our neural network.
The habits that we adopt every day can affect us more than we realise, including screen time. While there is nothing wrong with spending some time with our devices, however, we should limit our usages and spend fewer hours on it.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), looking at digital screens forces our eyes to work harder, leading to vision-related issues like astigmatism. When adults spend more than two continuous hours on digital screens, they are at a higher risk of experiencing Computer-Vision Syndrome (CVS).
The most common CVS symptoms are eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain. These symptoms can quickly negatively impact people's day-to-day activities.
Most of us use devices, especially smartphones, before we go to bed at night. However, according to Sleep Foundation, the blue-light emitting from our devices before we go to bed can suppress the release of the essential hormone melatonin.
It can compromise our sleep quality at night and alertness and mood in the morning. Continuous sleep deprivation can lead to numerous health issues like memory loss, weight gain, heart disease, and even cancer.
Moreover, we tilt our heads forward, hunch our shoulders, or slouch our back while using our smartphones, tablets, or laptops. All these are stressing our muscles and creating the syndrome known as 'Tech Neck.' It later leads to neck and shoulder pain and stiffness. The syndrome can also destroy our neck and spine's natural curve, which can eventually bring chronic pain and limit our mobility.
Other than these, there are several other reasons why we should avoid long hours of screen time.
Have you ever wondered why we spend so much time with our devices, especially on the social media? I mean, how long does it take to scroll down the entire mini-feed? It should not be hours, correct?
But we stay on social media for hours. According to the popular Netflix show called 'Social Dilemma', social media platforms manipulate our usages by using algorithms of our likes, search, click, comment, and other activities. The platforms harvest personal data to target users with ads or suggestions of pages to encourage us to use more – to give our valuable time to them.
Harvesting personal data is a breach of our privacy. All our social media activities, including private messages, are observed, collected, and shared with targeted advertisers. On top of that, numerous third-party applications like games that use our social media as a log-in are usually permitted to use our private information without informing us of the extent of the application's access.
Are you feeling terrified? You are not alone in this; as a Pew Research Center study shows, 91 percent of the respondents feel like they have lost control over the way their personal information is collected and used by other entities.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the usage of digital devices and platforms has seen substantial growth as people are socialising, working, shopping, and even learning online. However, knowing the dangers and breaches of privacy taking place through several social platforms, it has become critical to use an application that will neither breach our privacy nor manipulate our usages by algorithms.
Applications with end-to-end encryption (E2EE), like Viber, will not harvest our personal data. Due to the encryption, these platforms and any third parties cannot view our activities, including private messages and calls. It means no manipulation with ads and no encouragement of spending unnecessarily longer times on the platform. This way, it is easier to control our screen time and unplug from it.
No one expects people to stop using digital screens and social media. But to balance our valuable time for ourselves, families, and friends, it is essential for us to live a healthy digital life by being more mindful of our digital screen time.
On the other hand, as most social media platforms have been unable to keep up with our trust and breach our privacy for their own benefit, it is up to us to choose a platform that will not harm our lifestyles.
Anna Znamenskaya is the chief growth officer at Rakuten Viber
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.