The impact of Screens on your Mind
You probably wouldn’t expect an internet service provider to question the impact screens have on our health, but in truth, the harmful effects are surprisingly well documented.
There are many reasons as to why screens can cause us damage, with a major one seeming to stem from the way our brain responds to on-screen stimulus.
For example, when you have a fright in everyday life, you go into a state of hyperarousal – also known as fight or flight – and respond in a physical way to the impulse, before then calming down.
However what happens when we stare at screens seems to be that our frontal lobe fails to work properly with our limbic system, and instead of calming down we’re instead left in this state of hyperarousal.
This isn’t that surprising. All our internal system developed over millions of years, but computers have been around for less than 50. We’re not well adapted to deal with them.
In the screen situation you get all the stimulus of a real fight or flight incident, but you’re not doing anything with that sudden flood of hormones and adrenaline. The level of nervous energy, panic, and confusion rises, and we’re left in a state of alarm.
Another way screens have a negative effect on us appears to be connected to the refresh rate’s impact on the brain.
The screen on your phone or computer
may look static, but it’s actually flickering hundreds of times a second. While it’s not known exactly what aspect of the refresh rate impacts our mood, the side effects are clear – especially when a teen takes their phone to bed, and wakes up the next morning tired and grumpy.
What can I do about it?
The good news is you can do something about it!
To lower the impact of a screen’s refresh rate,you can get apps to turn colour from the blue, midday tones, to pinker tones, which more closely emulate dawn and dusk.
Other practical solutions include not holding the phone to close to your face, not watching or playing anything too stimulating for too long (i.e. shoot ‘em up games), and not looking at a screen for at least an hour before bedtime.
These few simple things won’t cure the problem, but they will certainly make everything a lot better, and allow us to start adapting to the modern world.
Want to read more?
Bright screens could delay bedtime – Scientifics American
Blue light at night is bad for your health – Harvard Health Publications