Devices and gadgets may have become part and parcel of our existence, but moderation is key to a healthier digital lifestylePublished on 22 February 2022
Malaysians spent roughly nine hours on the Internet every day during the third quarter of 2020, according to data collated by Statista. In the same period, Malaysians spent around three hours daily on social media, and the Malaysian Digital Association (MDA) also reported a spike in the demand for video streaming.
Some of these numbers coincidentally increased during the pandemic and that’s not surprising at all. With easy access to various online streaming services, we can watch anything we want. Malaysians young and old are also spending more time on their gadgets as many aspects of everyday life have moved to the digital sphere.
In the era of social distancing, society has resorted to virtual classes, remote work meetings, online shopping and online games. The evolution of online streaming platforms has led to the term binge-watching becoming the norm.
Local researchers reveal a worrying “side effect” of COVID-19 restrictions as it could be related to the growing addiction to smart devices among children and adolescents. We might think that the habit of binge-watching and excessive use of our gadgets doesn’t harm anyone, but in fact it does have bad effects on the user. We’ve compiled several negative impacts of too much screen time to encourage moderation.
Excessive use of computers and mobile phones causes sleep disturbances. The blue light from digital devices suppresses melatonin, the sleep-promoting hormone, and it keeps us from having proper and sufficient sleep. It is recommended to stop using screens ideally for two hours or at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep.
When we look at our screen, it is mostly while we are sitting or lying down. The longer we spend looking at our screens, the more time we spend being sedentary. This can increase the risk of obesity, along with chronic issues like heart disease.
It won’t be easy to kick out the habit especially when you are so used to it. You can start by pacing yourself and regulate your screen time by simply setting an alarm for a moderate amount of time on your phone and, once it goes off, you cut yourself off for the day.
Staring at the screen for too long can put a lot of strain on your neck muscles and the small bones at the top of your spine. You might not notice it but by doing this, you create a slumped position. It is unnatural especially when you are in that position for extended hours. One simple way to address this is by using a device to prop up the screen so you can see it without bending your head forward.
Behavioural and learning disabilities
Some parents find it convenient to pacify their child by either turning on the TV or playing YouTube videos. This might calm them at that moment, but too much screen time can lead to behavioural issues over time as excessive TV viewing is associated with delays in cognition, language, and social-emotional development.
According to experts, psychiatrists in Malaysia are seeing more cases of young patients who are addicted to their gadgets and showcasing signs of Internet gaming disorder and anxiety disorder among others.
It is important for parents to stay up to date with the latest apps, games, and social media platforms and trends to understand what they are dealing with. As parents, it is also crucial to make children understand the downside of too much screen time and what it can do to them. Here are additional tips for parents to follow.