Excessive screen time and list of harmful effects

Dr Prabath

Dr Prabath



Excessive screen time and list of harmful effects

Excessive screen time, particularly from devices like smartphones, tablets, computers, and televisions, can have several harmful effects on our physical and mental well-being. Here are some potential negative impacts of excessive screen time:


  1. Eye strain and visual problems: Staring at screens for extended periods can cause eye strain, dryness, blurred vision, and headaches. This is commonly known as computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain. Prolonged exposure to screens may also contribute to the development of nearsightedness, especially in children.
  2. Disrupted sleep patterns: The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle by suppressing the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Excessive screen time, especially before bed, can make it harder to fall asleep and negatively impact the quality and duration of sleep.
  3. Sedentary lifestyle and physical health issues: Spending excessive time in front of screens often leads to a sedentary lifestyle, reducing physical activity levels. Lack of physical activity can contribute to weight gain, obesity, cardiovascular problems, and musculoskeletal issues like back and neck pain.
  4. Poor posture and musculoskeletal problems: Maintaining the same position while using screens, especially with improper posture, can lead to musculoskeletal problems such as neck and shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and repetitive strain injuries.
  5. Mental health issues: Excessive screen time, especially on social media platforms, has been linked to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, loneliness, and low self-esteem. Constant exposure to curated and idealized versions of others’ lives can lead to negative social comparisons and feelings of inadequacy.
  6. Impaired cognitive function: Spending excessive time on screens can negatively impact cognitive function, attention span, and memory. It may also affect academic performance, especially in children and adolescents.
  7. Social and interpersonal problems: Excessive screen time can lead to a decrease in face-to-face social interactions, leading to feelings of isolation and difficulty in building and maintaining relationships. It can also hinder the development of important social skills, such as empathy and effective communication.
  8. Addiction and dependency: Excessive screen time, particularly with activities like gaming or social media, can lead to addiction-like behaviors and dependency. This can result in difficulty controlling usage, neglecting other responsibilities, and withdrawal symptoms when not using screens.



Excessive screen time, especially in the context of prolonged sedentary behavior and exposure to blue light, has been associated with various negative effects on physical and mental health. Here are a few studies that highlight the potential harmful effects of excessive screen time:

  1. “Association Between Screen Time and Children’s Performance on a Developmental Screening Test” – This study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, examines the association between screen time and developmental outcomes in children. It suggests that higher levels of screen time in early childhood are associated with poorer performance on developmental screening tests.
  2. “Screen Time and Mental Health in Adolescents and Young Adults” – This study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, investigates the association between screen time and mental health outcomes in adolescents and young adults. It suggests that higher levels of screen time are associated with increased symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  3. “Association Between Screen Time and Sleep in Preschool Children” – This study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, explores the association between screen time and sleep duration in preschool children. It suggests that higher levels of screen time are associated with shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality.
  4. “Digital Media and Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adolescents” – This study, published in JAMA, examines the association between digital media use and symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adolescents. It suggests that higher levels of digital media use are associated with an increased risk of ADHD symptoms.


These studies collectively suggest that excessive screen time, particularly in children and adolescents, can have negative effects on developmental outcomes, mental health, sleep patterns, and attention levels. It is important to establish healthy screen time habits, set limits, and encourage a balanced lifestyle that includes physical activity, social interactions, and other non-screen activities.


To minimize the harmful effects of excessive screen time, here are a few recommendations:


  1. Set limits and take breaks: Establish screen time limits for yourself and your family members, and take regular breaks to rest your eyes and engage in physical activity.
  2. Practice good posture: Maintain a proper posture while using screens to prevent musculoskeletal problems. Sit in an ergonomic chair, position screens at eye level, and take frequent breaks to stretch and move around.
  3. Use blue light filters: Enable blue light filters or use specialized glasses that block blue light to reduce eye strain and minimize sleep disturbances.
  4. Prioritize sleep hygiene: Avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime to improve sleep quality. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine that does not involve screen use.
  5. Engage in physical activity: Balance screen time with regular physical activity to promote overall health and well-being.
  6. Foster face-to-face interactions: Make an effort to engage in face-to-face social interactions, spend time with loved ones, and participate in activities that do not involve screens.
  7. Practice digital detox: Take periodic breaks from screens, such as weekends or vacations, to disconnect and engage in other activities that promote relaxation and personal growth.


By being mindful of our screen time and adopting healthy habits, we can minimize the harmful effects and maintain a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.

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